Zayn Malik pens urgent letter to British PM about free school meals
Zayn Malik has penned an open letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to ensure all children living in food poverty get a free school meal.
The former One Direction star has "first-hand" experience of the "shame" that young people feel having to rely on free meals at school and has highlighted the impact on both their physical and mental health.
Part of his message read: "These children are suffering from lack of concentration, some even resorting to stealing food from school canteens because they are so hungry but can't afford to buy lunch.
"They are also feeling shame which is directly impacting their physical and mental health.
"I know what that shame feels like, I have seen it first-hand, as growing up in Bradford, I relied on free school meals."
The 29-year-old singer is supporting the Food Foundation campaign, which calls for all children on Universal Credit to be eligible for free school meals.
According to the charity's research, around 800,000 children in England are living in poverty but do not meet the criteria for a free school meal.
Zayn joins England footballer Marcus Rashford, 25, and TV chef Jamie Oliver, 47, in campaigning for free school meals.
The Manchester United and England forward wrote to MPs as part of a campaign over a free schools meals plan outside term time and the government extended the scheme as a result, which is said to have benefited around 1.3 million children in England.
During his campaign about food poverty, Rashford spoke about his own experiences and the sacrifices his mother made when he was growing up.
Reflecting on the decision, he said: "She's very happy. Maybe if someone had spoken about it when she was going through it then the situation would've been different.
"I think she's just happy people are aware of it now and people are going to try and help them as much as they can. She's just happy that we're taking steps in the right direction."
The government is set to give a budget-style Autumn statement on November 17.