The Independent is running an article, highlighting calls from a small number of professors for food rationing to be introduced to prevent the UK running short of fresh fruit and vegetables. Our supermarkets have been clear they are taking all necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need. The Independent did not approach us for a comment on this story and are yet to update their online piece with our statement.
The piece is referring to a letter sent to the Prime Minister by a group of professors, which claims 8.4 million people are at risk of potentially running out of the food they need.
Despite the headline of the article, the Government has been clear it will do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need and our supermarkets have repeatedly said we have all the stock we need to meet demand and the food supply chain is even able to expand production further if needed to meet any increased demand. These supermarkets are continuing to monitor their supply chains and are already taking action to limit the supply of certain items to make sure shelves are stocked.
The Government is doing all is can to support this effort - relaxing competition laws so retailers can work together to keep shops open and stocked. This involves sharing data on stock levels, pooling staff to meet demand, or sharing distribution depots and delivery vans. Government has also been working with local authorities to extend delivery hours to supermarkets so shelves can be replenished more quickly.
Over the weekend the Government announced that is working in partnership with the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners on a new Local Support System to ensure vulnerable people will receive basic groceries. The Government and industry continue to work closely together to ensure people have the food and supplies they need.
A Government spokesperson said:
We will do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need. Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.
Supermarkets are already taking action to limit the supply of certain items to make sure shelves are stocked and it is crucial we all respect and adhere to these decisions.
Getting support with food supplies as a clinically extremely vulnerable person
Up to 1.5 million people in England have been identified by the NHS as being the most clinically vulnerable and therefore at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus. The NHS has written to many of these individuals asking them to self-isolate and giving them instructions of how to register on a Government website if they need support getting essential food supplies.
If you have received this letter and registered on the Government website and have been assessed as having no other means of accessing food, you will be eligible for a Government food parcel to be delivered to your home. The Government has begun delivering parcels and is working to deliver as many as possible as soon as possible. Your information will be also be passed to food retailers to prioritise you for home delivery slots. If you think you should have received a letter but haven’t had one, then you should contact your GP.
You may not fall into this category of being clinically vulnerable but you are vulnerable in other ways and in need of support getting essential food supplies. The Government is working to identify these individuals as soon as possible, and is working with food retailers and volunteer groups to help prioritise those individuals for home deliveries or support with getting food supplies.
Wherever possible you should continue to rely on friends, family and wider support to help you meet your needs.