How can coronavirus-vulnerable households get food deliveries? UK -Policy

Those in England that have been advised to shield will have received a letter from the NHS.

If you need urgent support, you can contact your local council. Or, if you’re self-isolating, you can get help through the NHS Volunteer Responders programme by calling 0808 196 3646 (8am-8pm).

Free food boxes

These are being organised by the UK government in partnership with the food industry, local government and local resilience forums such as BERT – see

The free boxes are being delivered weekly and are said to contain similar food items, including pasta and tinned goods, across the country.

So far, more than half a million food parcels have been delivered to shielding people in England, with thousands more to follow in the coming weeks.

How do I get a free food parcel in England?

If you haven’t already been contacted with advice and have a condition that makes you clinically vulnerable to coronavirus, you can register for help at You’ll need your NHS number to do so.

Accessing supermarket delivery slots in England

Around 1.85 million people in England have been contacted and advised to shield for 12 weeks.

The government has shared a list of people from that list who have said they have no means of accessing food with the supermarkets.

Supermarkets began by cross-referencing the list against existing registered customers and offering priority delivery slots to them.

Industry magazine the Grocer reports that non-customers have been approached by email and phone by some supermarkets to be offered recurring delivery slots.

To be included on the database that is shared with supermarkets in England, you must register a need for support using the tool at

If you want an online delivery slot, you must answer ‘no’ to the question asking if you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment.

You need to answer all questions on the form for your details to be shared with supermarkets.

What is each supermarket doing to help?

Supermarkets have been working hard to support vulnerable customers, including allocating dedicated in-store shopping hours for vulnerable and elderly shoppers and setting up helplines for those who can’t get online delivery slots.

But despite these measures, many elderly and vulnerable people have remained unable to book delivery slots. It has been a particular problem for those who aren’t in the extremely vulnerable group but are still self-isolating for other reasons such as age, as well as people who are unable to get to the shops due to disabilities.

All UK supermarkets will soon post a message on their websites asking vulnerable shoppers to input their postcode so they can be directed to one of 300 local food hubs. They will then be put in touch with a local volunteer who will shop for them.

Dedicated hours for vulnerable shoppers in store

If you’re elderly or vulnerable but are able to use shops, use the table below to find out when each supermarket is open for vulnerable shoppers and their carers.

If you’re unable to use the shops and are trying to get an online delivery, see the section below.

SupermarketDedicated hours for vulnerable shoppers
AldiCan enter stores 30 minutes before opening time from Mon-Sat
AsdaNo dedicated hours
Co-op‘Prioritised’ Mon-Sat 8am-9am; Sun 10am-11am
IcelandFirst hour of trading Mon-Sat
LidlNo dedicated hours
Marks & SpencerFirst hour of trading on Mon and Thu
MorrisonsNo dedicated hours
Sainsbury’sMon, Wed, Fri 8am-9am
TescoMon, Wed, Fri 9am-10am
WaitroseFirst hour of opening

Aldi has launched a food parcel for home delivery containing a range of store cupboard items, such as tinned soups, pasta and rice, as well as tea, coffee and personal care items, including hand soap and toilet roll.

The contents are worth around £20 and there’s a £5 fee for picking, packing and delivery.

While anybody can order the box, Aldi has requested that shoppers leave them for vulnerable and elderly customers.

Asda says it has contacted everyone named on the government’s list to offer them free, recurring delivery slots.

It has introduced a shopping card for volunteers who are shopping for those who can’t leave the house. It can be topped up in a similar way to an e-gift card and sent to the volunteer, or left in a safe space for them to collect.

This means that vulnerable people don’t have to hand over cash to volunteers and there’s no need for an exchange of bank details.

Co-op has teamed up with Deliveroo to deliver basic essentials to households in self-isolation without a delivery fee. This will run from around 400 stores.

Iceland said it’s regularly emailing customers who are on the list from the government and providing exclusive times for them to book a slot.

New customers can register at

Marks & Spencer is working with Deliveroo to deliver groceries from around 120 franchises in BP fuel stations. It also has a range of food boxes for home delivery, including store cupboard goods, vegetable and fruit boxes, and a £45 meat box.

Like Asda, it has introduced a contactless gift card that vulnerable people can buy for those helping with their shopping to use.

Morrisons has opened a helpline for vulnerable customers who are still struggling to get hold of items. Orders can be placed by calling 0345 611 6111

It has also teamed up with Deliveroo to deliver a selection of essentials via the delivery app in some areas.

Morrisons has allocated a ‘Community Champion’ in each of its stores who will be tasked with identifying people in the community who may still need support. Morrisons will post information through the doors of those identified.

Ocado says it’s identifying vulnerable customers and giving them priority access to and delivery slots.

Sainsbury’s is contacting those in England, Scotland and Wales who have been identified as extremely vulnerable and, for England, registered as needing help via

While it was originally focusing on existing customers, Sainsbury’s says it’s now contacting other people who have been identified as extremely vulnerable.

Tesco says it has matched details from the government list of vulnerable people in England with 75,000 existing customers and contacted them to offer deliveries.

Waitrose is offering elderly and vulnerable customers priority access to delivery slots, and has contacted those who have previously identified themselves as elderly or vulnerable when using Waitrose online orders or through the My Waitrose loyalty scheme.

It has asked that customers wait for further information, rather than contacting customer services directly.

Waitrose has also launched a volunteer payment card, which can be loaded with credit and then used to pay for a vulnerable person’s shopping.

School meal voucher scheme

In March, schools were forced to shut to all children apart from those of key workers, vulnerable children and those with specific special needs.

School closures left many families concerned about how to feed children who usually receive free school meals.

Around 1.3 million children in England are currently entitled to free school meals. For some, schools will continue to provide meals for collection or delivery.

Where this isn’t possible, families will be issued with an electronic voucher or gift card for £15 for each child per week to spend at supermarkets.

And if none of the above work, then there’s always BERT and foodaid