Essex County Council have asked local supermarkets to help feed vulnerable residents stuck at home because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The council estimate that over 1,000 residents need food supplies, because they have been ordered to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

A central distribution centre was set up in Witham over the weekend; at the moment there are enough provisions for over 220 food parcels.

The council have asked supermarket managers to contact them, to see if they can help either supplying food and essentials or delivering the parcels.

Councillor David Finch praised the staff who had set up the distribution centre "so quickly".

He said: "This has been a whole system effort and, along with our dedicated network of volunteers, we are committed to ensuring that every Essex resident - particularly those that are most vulnerable - has the support they need at this time.

"I would like to thank everyone that has and continues to work so hard in such challenging circumstances.”

The council are set to contact more residents - including all over-70s and pregnant women - this week to see if they need food supplies delivered.

The parcels are free and are the government estimate that hundreds of thousands could be delivered each week across the UK during the outbreak.

Much of the food is being supplied by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, but local authorities are free to supplement it with donations from residents and supermarkets.

Local firm Purple Olive catering were asked to provide 226 vegetable stews

The council said over 3,000 Essex residents have volunteered to help support the vulnerable, and have asked more to sign up on their website.

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