Published: 10:35, 29 March 2020
| Updated: 11:20, 31 March 2020
The first food parcels have been delivered to those at highest risk from coronavirus in the biggest drive to provide supplies to those in need since World War Two.
The NHS identified 1.5m clinically vulnerable people, including those in Kent, who were advised to stay at home for 12 weeks to shield themselves from contracting the virus, with 900,000 people receiving letters offering guidance this week.
Around 50,000 free food boxes containing essential supplies were delivered to households, including those in Paddock Wood, over the weekend.
The parcels were delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus.
Items such as pasta, fruit, tinned goods and biscuits are included in the packages set up by the Government to support those self-isolating who have no support network of family or friends to help them, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today.
More parcels are expected to go out next week from wholesalers across the country.
Depending on demand, hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week.
Those who think they are part of this clinically vulnerable group, but who did not receive a letter, are advised to contact their GP.
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "This sees the start of extraordinary steps to support the most clinically vulnerable, while they shield from coronavirus.
"I joined a delivery in Paddock Wood to see progress first hand.
"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.
"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."
Andrew Selley, chief executive of Bidfood, and Hugo Mahoney, CEO 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."
The Government is working with a 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, to ensure they do not worry about getting the food that they need.
Parcels, which will be left on the doorstep, include pasta, cornflakes, tea bags, tinned fruit, apples, rolls of loo roll and biscuits.
Those in need of social contact will have their details passed to local authority hubs, who will make contact and offer support.
If you think you're entitled to support, but haven't received a letter, you should contact your GP or visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Coronavirus: Everything you need to know here.
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More by this authorDenise Eaton