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.
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.”