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Council leader calls on Government to do more after first food parcels arrive

Credit: Rochdale Council

Rochdale council is calling on the Government to improve the quality of food parcels for people most at risk from coronavirus.

The food boxes are for people who are being shielded from Coronavirus and cannot leave their homes because of severe health conditions.

The Government said the packages would contain essential food and household items such as pasta, fruit, tinned goods and biscuits.

But Rochdale Council says it has had to source extra items, after the first parcels that arrived in the borough contained tea bags, cordial, one apple, chocolate bars, dry noodles and gingerbread biscuits.

“It’s not clear to me why people in some parts of the country are getting pre-prepared meals and our citizens are getting tea bags, biscuits and cordial."

– Allan Brett, Rochdale Council leader

A Government spokesperson described the claim as 'misleading':

It is not one of the food boxes we are delivering directly to the homes of extremely medically vulnerable people.

Our food boxes are of a standard that is consistent and include cereal, fruit and vegetables and pasta. As much as possible, this is a package that is universally suitable, and will provide enough food for one person for one week.

Councils have been issued with some additional supplies to help kickstart their wider efforts – but these should not be confused for a food box.”

– Government spokesperson

On launching the scheme just over a week ago, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said people will need to 'bear with us' as the initiative gets underway.

The first food parcels will inevitably been fairly generic, in time we hope to be able to refine this into a more sophisticated product which is better for people and better responds to their individual needs."

– Robert Jenrick MP, speaking on 22nd March

Rochdale Council added that not enough parcels had been made available - with only 44 delivered, despite there being 129 people in the borough who are being shielded and have requested one.

The government says the first food boxes have been delivered to those extremely medically vulnerable being shielded from coronavirus.

A spokesperson went on to say: "More parcels are expected to go out this week from wholesalers across the country, bringing the first set of deliveries to more than 50,000. Depending on demand, hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week."

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