Food access: MPs’ latest recommendations

A picture of supermarket foods

MPs concerned about food supply under COVID have issued their latest recommendations today 7 April.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs MPs’ committee held a follow-up inquiry as problems with food supply continued during Lockdown 3 in January. WinVisible was among 42 concerned organisations and individuals asked to update our previous testimony.

Highlights of the MPs’ recommendations:

  • The Government must call on retailers to ‘recognise their responsibility’ to assist clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people to access food if advised to shield, including the removal of delivery charges and minimum online spends for them. The report also raises concerns about people with disabilities who are unable to access online food delivery, recommending that Government ensures they receive the assistance they need. Retailers must also ensure that efforts to make their stores “covid secure” do not exclude people with disabilities.
  • In the event of another lockdown, the Government should ensure that families with children eligible for free school meals continue to be able to feed their children. The report also calls on the Government to learn from the unacceptable food parcels provided by some suppliers in January, and ensure that ‘any future offering is consistently up to standard’.
  • With the number of people experiencing food insecurity likely to have worsened because of lockdowns, the Government should conduct an annual food security report, sustaining this frequency until the combined economic fallout of covid-19 and Brexit has passed.
  • A new Minister for Food Security should be appointed to work cross-departmentally, ensuring that everyone, and especially the most vulnerable, has access to enough affordable nutritious food. The Government must also consult on a legal ‘right to food’ in its White Paper responding to the National Food Strategy, due early this summer.

Inclusion London is backing a petition by Sandip Sodha and others, to Scrap Delivery Charges and reduce the minimum spend to £5, sign it here. The MPs are calling for similar changes for people who are shielding.

Photo of wheelchair user Sandip Sodha outside a supermarket, who is campaigning against delivery charges.

Inclusion London say:

Sandip Sodha (pictured above), lead campaigner explains that “many Disabled people cannot get out of the house and shop on the high street and have no choice but to pay supermarket delivery charges. In some cases, people have to make an unenviable choice of heating the home or putting food on the table. Others are being pushed into debt.”

In response to a recent Inclusion London survey a participant wrote “Food shopping each week costs far more than buying it from the shops myself and is often so short-dated it has to be used in half a week and then I have to spend more on takeaway” and on top of that is the “extra for home delivery.”

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