It was on 19 March that Marcus Rashford first went on social media to highlight his fears about the impact that shutting schools would have on disadvantaged children.
He may be a high-profile Premier League footballer now, but it is only 11 years since the Manchester United and England striker needed breakfast clubs and free school meals to supplement what his mum could provide. She was the head of a single-parent family of five children, working full-time on the minimum wage.
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood before the nation on the evening of 18 March to tell the country schools had to help combat the spread of Covid-19, Rashford immediately knew what that would mean. While most parents wondered how they were going to manage childcare, Rashford wondered how kids growing up as he had would get fed.
“Guys, across the UK there are over 32,000 schools. Tomorrow all of these will close. Many of the children attending these schools rely on free meals, so I’ve spent the last few days talking to organisations to understand how this deficit is going to be filled,” he wrote.
The start of the six-post thread received 42,500 likes on Twitter. Just under 13 weeks later, Rashford posted again. A rather simpler message.
“I don’t even know what to say.” It received 709,000 likes.
In between, Rashford had helped supply the equivalent of three million meals. He had highlighted the damage caused by the ‘invisible issue of food insecurity’. He had received messages of support from Liverpool and Manchester City. He had changed government policy.
As Rashford returns to his day job, it is worth understanding why, at the age of 22, he has been so willing to step out of his comfort zone. It is worth understanding how he has ended up so revered and admired for his work away from the football field.
Rashford articulated his back story in the emotive letter he sent to MPs on Monday.
“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches,” he wrote. “Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year. It’s only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made in sending me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly.”
For one of the most recognisable sport stars in the country, this was a brave move. It opened the door on a life Rashford could, if he wished, now leave far behind. He is not far into his career but he has already earned enough to ensure none of his family need worry about their next meal ever again.
Yet that memory in itself does not tell the whole story.