Sandwell Council has confirmed it will continue to deliver emergency food parcels to older, vulnerable and disabled residents who need them until the end of July.
People are now being urged to make arrangements for their food shopping from 1 August, when shielding will end for most people as government restrictions continue to ease.
Sandwell Council set up its Emergency Practical Support Team in March to co-ordinate care and assistance for people who are older, vulnerable, disabled or who have been shielding themselves at home.
Supported by staff and volunteers as well as local businesses, charities, food banks and other organisations, the council has delivered more than 13,500 parcels since March to help people through the coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency.
Council staff moved temporarily from their normal jobs to run the food hub. They purchased food and essential items, packing and delivering parcels and calling vulnerable people to check on their welfare.
Sandwell was the first in the region to establish its food hub and is seen as best practice in terms of its quick mobilisation, community connections and expansion to support other vulnerable groups in Sandwell.
The food hub has been providing weekly deliveries of essential items – including eggs, cheese, milk, bread, pasta, cereals and tinned goods as well as sanitary products and baby food where needed – to people with no way of getting shopping.
Only a small number of households have received more than five parcels since March, as many people have started to make their own arrangements, order shopping online or been able to return to the shops.
Now, as government restrictions continue to ease and demand for the council’s food parcels has significantly reduced, the council is scaling back its operation.
The food hub service will end on 31 July, but emergency help and advice will still be available to those in greatest need.
The government has relaxed shielding measures as of 6 July and announced that shielding will end for most people, apart from those classed as extremely clinically vulnerable (who will continue to receive government support), from 1 August.
The council is sending a leaflet to all households who have been receiving its free food parcels letting them know they will need to make their own arrangements from 1 August onwards. The leaflet includes details of how to access supermarket delivery slots and food boxes, opening times, priority hours and other arrangements.
For anyone concerned about getting food after 1 August, please call Sandwell Community Offer on 0121 726 3983 or email email@example.com
For support from Sandwell Council Adult Social Care, please call 0121 569 2266.