SOME 2,000 people deemed most at risk from the coronavirus became the first to receive emergency food parcels over the weekend, as part of efforts to shield them from the pandemic.
The parcels were delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus. The Government has described the move as the biggest effort to deliver essential supplies to those in need since the Second World War.
More parcels are expected to go out this week from wholesalers across the country, bringing the first set of deliveries to more than 50,000. Depending on demand, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) said that hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week.
The packages contain essential food and household items such as pasta, fruit, tinned goods and biscuits, for those who need to self-isolate at home for 12 weeks but have no support network of family or friends to help them.
“We will support these people at this difficult time, and the scale of an operation like that has not been seen since the Second World War,” said communities secretary Robert Jenrick. “This is an unprecedented package of support and I want to thank the food suppliers, local councils and everyone who has come together to create this essential service in just a matter of days.”
In a joint statement, Andrew Selley, chief executive of Bidfood, and Hugo Mahoney, chief executive of Brakes, said: ”At a time of national crisis the foodservice industry’s two largest distributors are coming together to work with the Government to create packages of food and essential supplies that will be delivered to vulnerable people as part of the Local Support System.
“In these difficult times, we’re proud to join forces and play such a vital role in supporting people in need during their period of isolation. Together we are experts in food service and our distribution networks reach into every corner of the country. Our highly professional drivers and warehouse teams will be keeping the wheels turning in this vital national endeavour.”
MHCLG says the Government is working in partnership of the food industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can be delivered to those who need it.
Medicines will be delivered by community pharmacies and groceries and essential household items by food distributors, working with supermarkets. The parcels, which will be left on the doorstep, will include pasta, cornflakes, tea bags, tinned fruit, apples, toilet rolls, and biscuits.
Responding to the MHCLG’s announcement of the these first deliveries, the Local Government Association’s chairman, Councillor James Jamieson, said: “Councils across the country are leading local efforts to support communities through the coronavirus crisis and are helping government provide essential food parcels to vulnerable and isolated people on an unprecedented scale.
“Keeping older people and those with underlying health conditions safe remains the top priority of councils. They have stepped up to this challenge and will continue to work with government to support national efforts to minimise the spread of infection, protect the most vulnerable, support our local businesses and bring our communities together.”