The first food boxes are being delivered to the doorsteps of people who are adopting strict shielding measures to protect themselves from coronavirus.
More than 80,000 people across Wales have been asked to undertake shielding measures because they are classed as extremely vulnerable to serious illness if they are exposed to the virus.
Everyone in this group has a particular, long-term, pre-existing health condition, which increases their risk to coronavirus.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton has written to all of them asking them to take shielding measures – including staying at home for 12 weeks – to protect their health.
The people in this group who are not able to call on help from family members, friends or neighbours while they are shielding, will receive support, including a free weekly food box.
Only if the following applies:
You’ve received a letter from Wales’ Chief Medical Officer advising you that your pre-existing medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and that you need to follow ‘shielding measures’ to keep yourself safe; and
You have no other means of getting food – no family, friends, neighbours or support groups who can deliver to you.
If the above applies to you then you can contact your local authority to request a food box – the contact number for your Local Authority should be on the letter you received from the Chief Medical Officer.
Arrangements are in place for deliveries to start from the end of this week but you need to get in touch with your Local Authority. Your Local Authority will authorise orders and the food box will be delivered directly to your home by a food service business. Once your delivery begins, it will be a weekly delivery.
Local Authorities also have local arrangements in place to help people who are in immediate need – before the deliveries begin.
The box will contain essential foods in packages and tins but only limited fresh produce. We are not able to vary boxes to take account of dietary requirements but contents will be labelled. We hope to improve this and offer choice at a later stage if that is possible
A box will provide food and essentials for one person for one week. If there are two eligible people in the house, there will be two boxes.
If you’ve received the letter from the Chief Medical Officer and are following the ‘shielding measures’ then you’ll firstly need to see if family, friends or neighbours can collect your medicine from the pharmacy for you.
If this isn’t possible, please speak to your regular community pharmacy to discuss how you can get your medicine. Pharmacies will shortly have extra capacity and a record of who has been identified for ‘shielding’ in your area. The Welsh Government is coordinating additional support to community pharmacies using volunteer groups. Training has been developed regarding infection prevention control and medicine delivery for these volunteers.
Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James said:
“We are asking a great deal of people to shield themselves for up to 12 weeks and in return we must ensure those without family and friends they can call on to help have support, so they can stay at home safely.
“We have worked very closely with local authorities to get this scheme up and running in a matter of days. I am grateful to them for all the work they have done in co-ordinating these food box deliveries.”
The Welsh Government has made £15m available for the direct delivery food scheme.
The food boxes, which people request from their local authority, contain essential foods in packages and tins and will provide food for one person who is shielding for one week. They will be delivered weekly directly to people’s doors. If there are two eligible people shielding in the house, there will be two boxes.
A typical box will contain a range of items, such as UHT long life milk, tinned produce, pasta, toilet roll, breakfast cereal, some fruit and vegetables and bread. All contents will be clearly labelled.
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
“This is understandably a worrying time for all of our communities across Wales, particularly those who have been asked to undertake these shielding measures and who are unable to draw on the support of others for food deliveries.
“Our new weekly food boxes will provide essential food for people who are shielding and need support. It is great to see the boxes arriving on people’s doorsteps.”
Andrew Selley and Hugo Mahoney, chief executives of Bidfood and Brakes, which are delivering the boxes, said:
“We’re very proud that the foodservice industry’s two largest distributors have come together with the Welsh Government to create packages of food and essential supplies for vulnerable people in isolation.
“We plan to use our distribution networks to ensure we reach the vulnerable in every corner of Wales. Our highly professional drivers and warehouse teams are extremely motivated to help this vital national endeavour.”