food-box

How to get a government food package: your questions answered

The first free food parcels have been delivered

Sophie Hamilton

The government has already delivered over 1 million boxes of food to vulnerable people across the UK - and this number is still rising. If you have been identified by the NHS as clinically vulnerable, you should also be on the government's list to qualify for food package deliveries to your home. However, with so many news updates on help provided during the coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to know whether you qualify. We've answered some of the key questions with information on what to do if you haven't received a letter but think you qualify…

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Who qualifies for a government food package?

The NHS identified 1.5million people in the UK who are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus and advised them to stay at home for 12 weeks. The NHS sent letters to 900,000 vulnerable people giving them guidance. The letter gives these vulnerable people instructions on how to register on a Government website if they need support getting essential food supplies.

Once you register on the government website, you will be assessed as to whether you are eligible for a food parcel to be delivered to your home. Delivery of parcels has already begun and your information will be passed to food retailers to prioritise you for home delivery slots.

MORE: 12 best meal delivery services to order while you self-isolate on lockdown

I haven't received a government food package letter – what should I do?

If you think you fall into the clinically vulnerable category but haven't received a letter, the advice from the government is to contact your GP for further help. Before you do this, register on the government's website to see if you qualify at gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

On the website, the government has noted that some people may not fall into the clinically vulnerable category but still need support accessing food. It is working to identify these individuals and prioritise them for home deliveries.

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The food parcels will contain essential supplies

How often will the boxes be delivered?

The food boxes will be delivered to you once a week, and it should be on the same day each week. Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP confirmed that over 500,000 parcels have already been delivered to those most at risk across with hundreds of thousands more to follow. The government has partnered with national food distributors, Brakes and Bidfood, to get these supplies delivered to people’s doorsteps.

MORE: The ultimate supermarket shopping list for your lockdown essentials

What do the boxes contain?

The packages contain items such as coffee, tea, pasta, tinned goods, cereal, potatoes, two types of fruit and other basic supplies such as loo roll.

How do I get my medical prescription?

Medicines will be delivered by community pharmacies. If you haven't received any information on this, contact your local council for help. You can also contact your GP.

What has been the reaction to the government food parcels?

Since the launch of the first free food boxes, the government has encountered some criticism regarding the nutritional content of the included items. Releasing a statement on the government website, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has explained that: "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."

What advice has been given to anyone with specific dietary needs?

The government website has stated that: "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." 

How can I cancel my government food parcel?

If you no longer require a food parcel due to a change in circumstances, there are three ways to go about cancelling it. In person - you can refuse to accept the parcel, which will automatically cancel your next delivery. Online - on the government website where you registered as 'shielded', tick "Yes" to "Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?" By phone - call the automated helpline on 0800 028 8327 with your NHS number to hand. When asked the above question, reply "Yes". Doing so will remove your name from the list, but won't affect your right to priority status for supermarket slot delivery.

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