For some of us, the lockdown and social-distancing have been an opportunity to support local shops and food outlets or try new recipes but that is not the case for everyone. Residents who have no one to do shopping for them, do not have access to other networks and are clinically vulnerable can request support from Reading Borough Council (RBC). The council have been delivering food parcels to those in need since the end of March.
We asked RBC about the contents of their food box. They told us that the free weekly parcels contain basic food items such as: one loaf of bread; sugar; flour; rice; pasta (penne or tagliatelle); egg noodles; milk; six eggs; tins of tuna, baked beans and soup; cereal; jam and spreads; crisps; biscuits; fruit, squash [cordial] and juice; tea, coffee and hot chocolate. The box also includes washing liquid and two toilet rolls.
As well as the basic box, RBC supply dairy items, a vegetable box and fruit.
The supplies in the box are varied for halal, vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, gluten free or diabetic dietary requirements. Quantities are increased according to the number of adults and children in the household.
Food deliveries will continue for the 12 weeks that 1.5 million shielded people in the UK have been advised to stay at home for.
What Reading East MP Matt Rodda has to say
Matt Rodda MP for Reading East wrote to his constituents on 3 April about his work during the coronavirus epidemic. He said that he had raised the concerns of Reading and Wokingham borough councils and local charities that emergency food supplies from the government did not add up to a balanced diet.
When we asked Matt Rodda about this he told us that he had been assured that RBC had added fruit and vegetables not in the basic food parcel but they were not required to do this. He is currently monitoring the situation and would be able to take action on behalf of constituents if parcels were inadequate.
How are RBC managing this?
Giorgio Framalicco, RBC’s deputy director of planning, transport and regulatory services manages the packing and distribution operation that is being undertaken by staff from across the council.
The One Reading Community Hub, looking after the most vulnerable residents who need food, prescriptions and support, is run entirely by redeployed Council staff. This is how it works., described by one of the team. Phoneline open over BH weekend 9am – 1pm. #rdguk #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/9AKJobjGNh
— ReadingCouncil (@ReadingCouncil) April 11, 2020
RBC has published a list of decisions made in response to Coronavirus and their cost implications. These include setting up a food distribution service with a contract with Bidfood and another with Reading based C A Belcher for fruit and vegetables to be included in food parcels.
The One Reading Community Hub is responsible for co-ordinating help, including food parcels, for residents during the epidemic. It is a partnership between Reading Borough Council, Reading Voluntary Action and Reading community organisations.
You can contact the hub online or by ringing 0808 1894325 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday or 9am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday and over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The public is being urged to only contact the Hub if they have urgent welfare needs which a family member or trusted friend cannot help them with. This is so that resources can be directed to the people that need it most at this challenging time. All offers of help and support are welcome from individuals, businesses and other organisations. The Hub cannot provide health advice and will direct customers to NHS 111.
- Reading Borough Council website & advice on coronavirus and how services are affected & One Reading Community Hub Support
- Reading Voluntary Action
- Matt Rodda MP home page
- RBC Decision Book – Decision 591 – Decisions in Response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic
- One Reading Community Hub