Marks and Spencer shoppers are praising the retailer after it announced it will provide extra support to families, starting next week.

From Monday, M&S will fund an additional £5 per week for each £15 school lunch voucher redeemed at its stores.

The additional £5 can be used to provide children with a healthy nutritious breakfast as well as lunch.

The move comes as the Government came under huge criticism this week after shocking images of paltry food packages being delivered to families were highlighted on social media.

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Footballer Marcus Rashford, an avid food poverty campaigner, is supporting M&S’s gesture.

He said: "As a child, I relied on breakfast clubs to kick start my day the right way. Breakfast is so important to guarantee children have the ability to engage in learning, and to flourish within the education system, to go on to succeed at whatever they choose to do in life.

“Education is the most effective means of breaking cycles of hardship in some respects but education is only achievable with strong engagement and concentration. Unfortunately for the majority, hunger does not allow that.

“I thank M&S for taking the strong initiative to support the uplift of the vouchers to cover an essential meal of the day and I'm confident we will see a great response from those most vulnerable.”

Many shoppers have taken to social media to praise the retailer for its gesture.

On Twitter, one user wrote: “This is amazing. M&S to increase the value of the voucher and provide a meal plan to include both breakfast and lunch! Choice is better than any hamper.”

A second added: “Wow this is brilliant! Well done @marksandspencer - spread the word - it’s not just a voucher - it’s an M&S £20 voucher!!”

Another said: “Very generous boost to free school meal vouchers from @marksandspencer”.

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M&S has also produced a downloadable weekly meal planner to help parents prepare five simple, nutritious breakfasts and lunches for under £20, for two children.

The online planner includes hints, tips and mealtime inspiration, all with minimal food prep, as well as tips on avoiding food waste.

The planner includes family favourites such as porridge with fruit, eggs and soldiers, flour tortilla pizzas with salad and tomato pasta - it can be found here .