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Nutritional content of the government food parcels

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This week the first free food boxes containing essential supplies have been delivered across England to those at highest risk from coronavirus.

The Times has run an article on the contents and nutritional value of these government food boxes for the most vulnerable, which it suggests are not sufficient, particularly because of the lack of fresh items in the box.

The parcels contain enough food for one person for one week. They are intended to provide basic supplies to those who need them most. The contents of the box were put together in consultation with nutritionists and industry groups, but there are some limitations around what could be included. For example, due to packing and delivery logistics the boxes can only contain items that can be stored at room temperature. That is why there are more tinned goods and longer lasting fruit such as apples or pears.

While the contents of the parcels may have slight variation (depending on stock), they contain long-life items such as tinned vegetables - as well as tinned tomatoes - tinned fruit, soup and baked beans, and a jar of cooking sauce. Other tins will contain meat and tuna. Store cupboard staples such as pasta, rice or noodles or cous cous, and potatoes are also in the box, along with cereal, bread and fruit. Coffee, tea and biscuits can also be found inside, plus toilet paper and shower gel.

For those with special dietary needs that may not be met by the packs they receive, they should contact their Local Authority for further help and advice.

It is also important to note that these food boxes are part of the wider solution which is evolving to meet people’s needs. We are working with supermarkets to prioritise their deliveries to the most vulnerable people. We are also working quickly to support people who do not fall into the category of being clinically vulnerable, but still need help getting essential food supplies. This could include those who are elderly, disabled or have health conditions that make it difficult for them to get the food they need.

Where possible, people should continue to rely on friends, family and wider community support.

Further guidance on food box eligibility for the most vulnerable is outlined here:

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 shield themselves at home and minimise non-essential contact with others, 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.

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  1. Comment by Yvonne and David Johnson. posted on

    Hi we found a big box on our doorstep on Tuesday morning. We hadn't ordered anything so we thought that someone had left it by mistake. We were amazed when we found it contained groceries. We had no idea who had left it and we couldn't believe how much was in it. We were stunned and so very grateful but didn't know who to thank for it. My husband
    has prostate cancer, Leukaemia and COPD and he's 79 in June. I also can't walk and have many disabling conditions. There are no words to tell you how grateful we are and I will never, ever forget your kindness. We will self isolate for as long as it takes. Stay indoors and keep safe everyone.

  2. Comment by Wendy Kibby posted on

    Received first food parcel today, was very grateful of everything in there.
    I was so pleased to see pasta spaghetti it's my son's favourite he was so excited as we have not been able to get any for a while now.

    Thank you so so much.

  3. Comment by Mrs Susan Nind posted on

    Thank you for my food boxes ? I much appreciate them as nobody round my area has bothered to knock on my door to see if we are ok.What a good job you are all doing and I have give my next door neighbour a couple of things from our boxes as he was struggling.THANK YOU.

  4. Comment by Den Smith posted on

    Please can you tell me how to cancel the food boxesI don't need them any more, due to supermarket deliveries being set up as a vulnerable person. I went back into the form as reqested but there was no way to say no to the boxes, despite being told to do so if my circumstances changed.

  5. Comment by Dianne sims posted on

    Thank you so much for the lovely box of food,l did cry when it came, so very grateful, thanks again

  6. Comment by kevin posted on

    its a great idea for the food parcels but its not being thought out or monitored in two weeks
    1, two 2kg bag of potatoes / one bag was rotten
    2, two 1kg bag of rotten carrots / one bag was rotten
    3, two packs oranges / one bag was rotten
    4, two packs apples / one bag was rotten
    that's 50% rotten
    5, 8tins of tomato soup
    6, 6 tins tomatoes
    7, 2 jars of tomato sauce
    8, 6 tins beans in tomato sauce

    Just how many tomato based meals can one person eat in a week
    9, two packs spaghetti I don't know anyone that would get through a pack of spaghetti a week
    10 , what's left of the pack is ok
    you need to think about what you are putting in these packs of food

    • Replies to kevin>

      Comment by Patricia gibbons posted on

      Hi my name Patricia gibbons could you deliver me a food parcel to day plz has I can't go out I am at high risk thank u

  7. Comment by Keeley Faben posted on

    Thank you so much as I cannot get out shopping it is very hard to keep going you are a god send thank you so so much

  8. Comment by Chris Priest posted on

    Where is the list of typical contents of a food parcel? You have to register with the Times newspaper to read the referenced article. Not something I want to do just to read 1 newspaper article.

    This web page is nearly content free. It gets a D from me.

  9. Comment by Maureen Lewis posted on

    At the foodbank we are getting calls from many who have received the boxes and do not need them and offering them to us. . Why do they not have a box to tick to say we dont need the food.

  10. Comment by Alison Finch posted on

    I registered in the gov extremely vulnerable list over 2 weeks ago. Repeated again a couple of days ago. The supermarkets say I am not in the list they have? I am in the shielding group, unable to leave my house but cannot get a delivery list any supermarket. Can’t understand why the supermarkets don’t see me in the list? Please help me. I don’t need food parcels but I do need to get my groceries delivered. Thanks.

  11. Comment by David O'Connell posted on

    I got a food box last Monday but not received anything this week it's Wednesday tomorrow so it will be 10 days since i got my first food box ?

  12. Comment by Graeme posted on

    Heart disease, COPD, Arthritis, Depression. completely housebound(bedridden) with no friends and no family. No contact from any official or non official agency offering any kind of assistance whatsoever. No hope of a supermarket food delivery either. Slowly but surely starving to death - i genuinely cannot recall how many days has now passed since i last ate something. Clearly it seems that for whatever reason i am not on the list for emergency food parcels. Called my GP in desperation and was informed that they never put my name forward for a govt food parcel because i have not had a heart transplant or lung transplant therefore i do not meet the criteria? Its not just the starvation that is eating away at me - its the anger as well.

    • Replies to Graeme>

      Comment by Natalie Williams posted on

      Graeme where do you live? I will see if I can arrange a delivery of food for you from a supermarket. I will pay for this delivery. We have to help eachother where we can.
      You can email me at

  13. Comment by Karen posted on

    I used my nhs number to get throw to the helpline.says it does not recognise my number .also filled in the form as well not received anything yet.

    • Replies to Karen>

      Comment by Stanley Limbert posted on

      I got my food parcel, it was open at te top, i.e not sealed and on comparing with some one else's parcel there were items missing, thee is no check list . To whom do I complain too about this.

  14. Comment by J crank posted on

    You are doing an amazing job keep safe keep smiling keep strong we thank you so very much ☺

  15. Comment by John Goold posted on

    I received my first food parcel today. It is a most welcome addition to help us through these difficult times. Thank you

  16. Comment by Tracey posted on

    Hi how do you get free food parcels please I have my daughter who is 11 weeks pregnant and my other daughter is a vulnerable young adult
    I missed placed the letter.

  17. Comment by Emma posted on


    I'm new to this as I'm sure a lot of people are right now. I was wondering how I would go about getting a food parcel delivered to my home if possible?

    Myself and three children are aled isolating and can't get out..

    Stay safe everyone x

  18. Comment by Hello posted on

    If you need food desperately then you can go to your nearest community food bank

  19. Comment by Elena Johnston posted on

    I am extremely clinically vulnerable. I live my own and have nobody to help me with shopping. I can’t order from supermarket. I have registered already on government website. But still I am totally lost. I really need help. Please

    • Replies to Elena Johnston>

      Comment by Sam posted on

      On your shielding letter there is number you text , it will text you back asking if you need food , medicine etc

      • Replies to Sam>

        Comment by Elena Johnston posted on

        Thanks Sam. I was really happy when I received a food parcel and I am very grateful. I mean it.
        I get medicine from pharmacy. Thanks to them .
        May I please get more fresh vegetables+fruits, yogurt, cream fresh, whole milk, bread, eggs and oil.
        My best wishes to all very generous people. ❤️❤️❤️

  20. Comment by Maureen Langford posted on

    I have the lung condition Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis so am in the shield situation.To date I have not received any communication about the essential supplies package.
    At what point should I contact someone as to my eligibility for a package?
    Thank you
    Mrs Maureen Langford

  21. Comment by Miss A posted on

    I'm allergic to tomatoes. So far in 2 weeks I've been sent 6 tins of tomato soup and 4 tins of plum tomatoes and 6 tins of beans. I will re-donate once I am able to. I would like to see some sugar, butter and jam. I am very grateful for the bread, milk, tea and fruit. Thankyou

  22. Comment by Cherilynn Crow posted on

    How do I get a free supply of mixed food for the Vunerable

  23. Comment by Jackie pearce posted on

    Hi could u tell me if I can have a food parcel as over 60 me and my husband and I registered disabled I can't stand for long and have other illness on loads of meds place cud u let me know ty

  24. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    But would your average receiver of a food package know what to do with a cabbage or cauliflower or are they so used to buying fast food that they have lost the knowledge of their parent.

    • Replies to William Hughes-Games>

      Comment by Rose posted on

      That's quite a generalisation. Most people of this generation can cook and do so. Vi dont know anyone elderly who lives off fast food, nor can the afford it on.pensions.

    • Replies to William Hughes-Games>

      Comment by Martine Harris posted on

      The parcels do not leave food of this type unfortunately. Only pears or apples are supplied ie longer lasting expiry date. If you google ‘government food parcels’ you only get exactly what they state. Hopefully this time afforded to us all will hopefully allow for us all to be more creative, go back to basics and hopefully appreciative our lives in a more meaningful way. Certainly this world of technology will make that easier for those without recipe books. I hope you are coping ok ?