Footballer Marcus Rashford has hailed the power of “kindness and compassion” after a U-turn from the UK Government regarding the provision of free school meals to children during the winter school break.

The footballing star who has been campaigning for free school meals confirmed that he had a “good conversation” with Boris Johnson after a phonecall that took place yesterday, at which time the Prime Minister informed him of the decision to provide an extra £170 million of extra funding.

Rashford said he was “so proud” of those who had united behind his campaign and that he was “overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding”.

He also promised his supporters to “fight for the rest of my life” to end child hunger in the UK.

READ MORE: Marcus Rashford's food poverty crusade shames the Government

In a statement yesterday, he commented: “Following the game today, I had a good conversation with the Prime Minister to better understand the proposed plan, and I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK.

“There is still so much more to do, and my immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn’t quite low enough, but the intent the Government have shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that.

“The steps made today will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months, and that can only be celebrated.”

This morning, Rashford said he wanted to reflect on what had happened over the past few weeks.

He said: “I am so proud of ‘us’ as a collective. ‘Us’ being the local businesses, charity workers, volunteers, teachers, social workers, carers and key workers.

“Together we have demonstrated the power of kindness and compassion. We have shown that when it comes down to the wire, we will always have each other.

“Seeing the role everyone has played in supporting our most vulnerable children has been the greatest moment of my life.

“I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding.

“I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it, because in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom.

“I don’t want any child to go through what I went through, and any parent to experience what my mother experienced,” he said.

He added: “Kindness is power.”

As part of the package, Healthy Start payments, which help expectant mothers and those with young children on low incomes and in receipt of benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, are set to rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021.

The U-turn comes after the Government last month whipped Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion in the House of Commons calling for the extension of free school meal provision following Rashford’s campaign.

Businesses and councils across the country stepped into the breach following the result, announcing they would fund meals during the October half-term for those who needed them.

The striker’s petition for pupils in disadvantaged families to have their meals paid for during the holidays went on to attract more than one million signatures – mass backing which piled pressure on Downing Street to commit to more support.

The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover until the end of March.

Local authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December.

The Government also said up to £220 million is being invested in the Holiday Activities and Food programme, with disadvantaged children able to get healthy food and take part in activities over summer, Christmas and Easter in 2021.