Brakes and Bidfood, the UK’s leading foodservice providers, have today confirmed that more than five million shield packs were successfully delivered across England and Scotland to those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable during the four month respective Government shielding programmes, which are being paused from today (31st July).
The initiative was launched to ensure that vital food supplies could reach Britain’s most vulnerable people during lockdown. Involving more than 3,000 employees from Bidfood and Brakes, it has been described as the largest effort to feed the nation since the Second World War.
The boxes contained more than 20 products, including some that were a challenge to source at the beginning of the pandemic, such as pasta and rice. In total, more than 15 million cans of soup, enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools and 3,000 tonnes of rice and pasta, the equivalent weight of 30 blue whales, were delivered during the initiative.
In total, Bidfood and Brakes delivered approximately 4.7 million packs in England and 800,000 packs in Scotland.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “I want to thank all those involved at Brakes and Bidfood for the sterling work they have done to get food to the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Together they have packed and delivered 4.7 million food parcels across England – a truly outstanding effort in such a short space of time.
“While the food boxes have come to an end, those who had registered for them will remain eligible for a priority supermarket delivery slot and the NHS Volunteer Responders Programme will continue to provide support with getting food, prescriptions and essential items to those who are self-isolating for any reason.”
Both Bidfood and Brakes have each received an overwhelming number of thank you messages from grateful recipients of the free weekly boxes, who would otherwise have been unable to access food during this period due to shielding to protect their health.
In a joint statement, Alex Mayfield, Director of Supply Chain and Operations at Brakes, and Jim Gouldie, Supply Chain and Technical Services Director, Bidfood, said: “Everyone involved across both businesses have been so proud to have played a part in helping some of the nation’s most vulnerable people at a time when supporting them was so crucial. We had this scheme up and running in a matter of days and since then, every morning, hundreds of vehicles have left our depots carrying thousands of essential supplies across the country to those who need them.
“The number of calls, letters and messages on social media that we’ve received have been amazing. Our drivers have heard first-hand how these boxes have been a lifeline for the clinically extremely vulnerable receiving them throughout lockdown and we’re delighted to have been able to be a part of such a critical programme.”
Priority supermarket delivery slots will continue beyond July for those clinically extremely vulnerable who had signed up for free food boxes.
Wholesalers, including Brakes and Bidfood, supermarkets and other retailers – are offering telephone ordering and food boxes to make it easier for vulnerable people to shop for themselves.
The NHS Volunteer Responders Programme will continue providing support with food, prescriptions and essential items to those who are self-isolating for any reason. This also includes anyone that is clinically extremely vulnerable, or anyone that is vulnerable for another reason. If you or a family member meet the criteria, you can call 0808 196 3646 and ask for help.
You can also find details of other support and advice available at https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support. If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact your local authority to find out what support services are available in your area.