The Manchester United star led a successful campaign to extend the provision of free school meals for vulnerable children during the spring lockdown, and continues to work on projects to tackle child hunger.
As reported by Sportsmail, Rashford missed out on the main award because it is given purely for ‘sporting achievement’ but the judging panel unanimously agreed his work off the pitch should be commended.
Marcus Rashford has been honoured with a Panel Special Award during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on Sunday night
He was honoured for his work to end child food poverty with a new ‘Panel Special Award’
Speaking during the ceremony from Media City in Salford on Sunday night, Rashford said: ‘Growing up as a kid I felt if it was a 100 metre race I started 50 metres behind everybody else.
‘It was more difficult for me to do the basic things like getting to training, eat the right things, it was a nightmare of a situation to be in, but in the end I got to where I needed to get to.
‘Once I got there I just had this thing that eats at me saying “make sure you make a difference for the next generation”.
‘I think as a country we should protect them as much as we can and give them the best chance at life and become whatever it is they want to become.’
Rashford started a campaign in June to extend free meals vouchers that has led to the Government pledging to spend £400million to support families in need throughout 2021.
Rashford attended the ceremony at Media City in Salford to collect the prize for his efforts
He was awarded an MBE in October for services to vulnerable children during Covid-19.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a point of speaking to Rashford directly after being persuaded to introduce a raft of new measures to help the poorest children.
Rashford paid tribute to his mother, Melanie Maynard, who has revealed she would go hungry to ensure her children were fed.
‘Everything I get from what I’ve done, it will always sit in her house and it will sit where she can see it every day because she’s the person who, in difficult circumstances, brought me up to become a person that has morals.
‘My friends will tell you I haven’t changed since we were kids.’
Rashford was awarded an MBE in October for services to vulnerable children during Covid-19
Asked how the campaign had gathered momentum, he said: ‘It was something I tried a few years ago in Manchester but I wasn’t satisfied with the reach it was having.
‘A few years later I was speaking to my brothers and my mum and said “I’m going to have another go at it”. And then we did, and what happened since then we didn’t expect.’
The BBC will air a special access-all-areas documentary about Rashford’s campaign on December 21.