The Mail on Sunday has run an article on what is being done to ensure the health and social care sectors have an adequate food supply in the upcoming weeks. The piece describes some wholesalers which face insolvency due to the widespread closure of restaurants and claims this could have a knock on effect on food supply to care home and hospitals. Despite approaching us for a comment, the journalist has not carried our statement in the story.
The fact is we are working with organisations from across the food industry – including wholesalers – to keep food moving and minimise food waste. We are in frequent contact with representatives from across the food supply chain to respond to the impacts of the coronavirus.
An example of this is the work the government has been doing with leading wholesalers to deliver thousands of food parcels to vulnerable people who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus. The first 2,000 food parcels have already been delivered this weekend and more parcels are expected to go out next week from wholesalers across the country, bringing the first set of deliveries to more than 50,000.
We have also relaxed Competition Laws so retailers can work together to keep shops open and stocked, share data on stock levels, pool staff to meet demand, or share distribution depots and delivery vans.
A Defra spokesperson said:
“We are working closely with the food industry across the supply chain to try to keep food moving and minimise food waste.
"This includes working with the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners to ensure essential items from across the food sector are delivered as soon as possible to the most vulnerable."
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.