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Coronavirus: UK delivers first free food parcels to vulnerable people in operation 'not seen since WWII'

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Photo: Getty

The UK government is delivering the first round of free food boxes to those most at risk from coronavirus, in an operation that “has not been seen since the Second World War.”

Whitehall confirmed in a statement that the first 2,000 of 50,000 free food boxes, which contain essential supplies and household items such as pasta and tinned goods, will be delivered this weekend.

“This weekend sees the start of extraordinary steps to support the most clinically vulnerable, while they shield from coronavirus,” said communities secretary, Robert Jenrick MP in a statement.

“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.”

Over the last week, the UK government and National Health Service (NHS) identified 1.5 million clinically vulnerable people that have been advised to stay at home for 12 weeks. Around 900,000 vulnerable people have received letters from the NHS giving them guidance this week.

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There are now 17,089 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK. On 28 March, a jump of 260 deaths were announced, bringing the total number of people who have died from Covid-19 in Britain to 1,019.

The UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, is sending a letter to 30 million households warning citizens that the crisis will get worse before it gets better.

"From the start, we have sought to put in the right measures at the right time,” the letter will say. "We will not hesitate to go further if that is what the scientific and medical advice tells us we must do."

Since more drastic measures have been undertaken by the government to stop the spread of the coronavirus, it has made it hard for the most vulnerable people in society in to gain access to food and medical supplies. Furthermore, supermarkets have had to limit items to shoppers to stem panic-buying.

This is why the government is giving out free food parcels, which will be left on the doorstep, and will include pasta, cornflakes, tea bags, tinned fruit, apples, rolls of loo roll and biscuits.

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“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,” said Andrew Selley, CEO of Bidfood, and Hugo Mahoney, CEO of Brakes — both bosses of food suppliers and distributors — in the joint statement.

“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.”