Getting food and essentials during coronavirus
The government, supermarkets and community groups are working together to make sure everyone can get the supplies they need.
We’ll try to keep this information up to date, but check with specific supermarkets and government information for the most recent updates.
Government support for extremely vulnerable people
The government has a support service for people with medical conditions that make them 'extremely vulnerable' to coronavirus. You’re considered extremely vulnerable if you have a medical condition that means you will become seriously ill from the virus. It’s not based on if you are disabled or how hard you find things like shopping or going outside.
The government support service can help you get essential supplies if you do not have help from friends, family and neighbours. You may also get a letter with “important advice to keep you safe from coronavirus”. This will include information on how you can get help with vital supplies.
If you’re not listed as extremely vulnerable
If you are disabled but not considered extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, there are other ways to get essentials. If you cannot get supermarket deliveries, try alternatives like:
- local coronavirus volunteer group
- online delivery services
- food box delivery services
- ready meal delivery services
Find more information about these services on this page.
Local groups and volunteers can help you get food and essentials
Some local groups are co-ordinating volunteers to get essentials for people who cannot go to shops or get deliveries.
If you’re struggling to get deliveries because of high demand, contact your local support group. A volunteer should then contact you to arrange:
- what shopping or prescriptions you need picking up
- how to pay for your shopping
- when they can drop your shopping to your door (they will not come inside your home)
Each group may vary slightly depending on how they’ve set up their support service.
You could also search for support through Facebook groups set up for your local area. Some support groups or volunteers may post about the services available or you can ask for help finding a local volunteer group.
Your local authority or council should have information on coronavirus and community support on their website. If you cannot find information for community support, contact general enquiries.
Many supermarkets are changing their service to help those who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, or in self-isolation. This includes things like:
- changing opening hours with certain times and days dedicated for vulnerable customers only
- creating priority delivery slots
- restricting how many items you can buy so there’s enough for everyone
- making sure people can shop safely
Some supermarkets are prioritising deliveries based on a government list of people who are extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Check each supermarket to find out how they’re allocating deliveries. You will need to register for online shopping on their website.
If you’re struggling to get deliveries from your supermarket, you could try phoning your local corner shop to see if they will deliver.
Access to vulnerable shopping hours
Many supermarkets are not asking for proof that you’re disabled or have a medical condition. If you’re asked you may just need to explain that you have a health condition or are disabled. If you’re worried about getting access to the vulnerable shopping hours, you could try taking disability benefit or blue badge paperwork with you.
You could also try getting a sunflower lanyard. This tells staff you have an invisible condition and may help you access the vulnerable shopping hours.
Check your local supermarket website
Check your local supermarket website for updated information on changes to their services and the support they can give you.
Asda are working on providing priority home delivery slots for people the Government has identified as extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.
They do not have in-store shopping times for older or more vulnerable people. But the number of customers in a store will be limited to make sure people can use social distancing.
Asda have also created a Volunteer Shopping Card. This provides a contactless and secure way for others to shop for you if you cannot get a delivery.
All Tesco stores (except Tesco Express) will prioritise older people and vulnerable people between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Tesco have home delivery and click and collect. They’re planning to put delivery slots aside for vulnerable customers as they add more deliveries.
Morrisons have no priority delivery slots or in-store shopping times but have started providing ‘food boxes’ with everyday essentials. These are delivered by courier.
The first opening hour of each Waitrose supermarket is dedicated to older people, vulnerable customers and those who look after them. Waitrose are also limiting how many people are in the shop at a time. This is to help keep the 2 metre social distancing.
Waitrose is delivering more than 40% online delivery slots to vulnerable customers. They say that this will increase as they prioritise new slots for those in need.
Sainsbury’s are offering priority delivery and click and collect slots for older people, disabled people and vulnerable customers. If you are not on their vulnerable customers list, call free on 0800 328 1700. They are also working with the Government to reach people considered extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, between 8am and 9am all their supermarkets will only serve older customers, disabled customers and carers.
All Co-op stores have a dedicated shopping hour for those at higher risk and the people who care for them. Check with your local store for details.
Co-op do offer home delivery but have a restriction of 20 items to help meet demand.
The first hour of trade has been set aside for people over 70 and vulnerable customers on Mondays and Thursdays.
Iceland are offering home delivery but demand is still high.
Aldi offers home delivery but not for groceries. It has no priority delivery slots or in-store shopping times for vulnerable people.
Online delivery services
Places like Amazon and Uber Eats offer an alternative if you cannot get your food and essentials delivered from the supermarket.
Uber Eats lets you search for local shops or supermarkets that deliver groceries.
AmazonFresh is available for Prime members to order fresh food and essentials from local shops and supermarkets.
You can also find other food items, such as tea or canned goods through the main website if you’re not a Prime member. Check the delivery dates first as there may be delays.
Local veg box schemes or wholesale suppliers
Many supermarkets are overwhelmed with delivery demand. Check if there is a food box delivery scheme in your area. Some food wholesale suppliers have also now started doing home deliveries to help people get essentials. Just make sure you check the quantities of products if you’re buying from a wholesale supplier.
Some suppliers include other essentials like toilet paper but suppliers vary in what they can supply and where they deliver. Search for wholesale suppliers or food box schemes through:
Local food drops
Local Food Drops are a new service designed to help local communities access food supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. Search for local wholesale suppliers that can deliver food to you.
On your doorstep
Use on your doorstep to search for local suppliers that will deliver food and essentials to your door.
While some companies are listed as wholesale suppliers, they are currently committing to delivering to households. The supplier location does not always mean they’re restricted to local deliveries and may distribute nationwide.
New Covent Garden Market businesses
A range of businesses offering food and essentials deliveries in London and the surrounding areas.
Soil Association organic food box scheme
This website can help you find a local organic food box scheme to get things like fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat.
Food box finder
Food Box Finder helps you find farm veg box delivery services near you.
Meal delivery services
Meals on Wheels
If you are eligible, your council or other local organisations may provide meals delivered to your home.
Wiltshire Farm Foods
Wiltshire Farm Foods are only accepting orders for ready meals from existing customers and those who are extremely vulnerable.
Cook offers home delivered frozen ready meals. Their delivery slots are busy but they are trying to make more available daily. They’re also continuing to prioritise those in “at risk” groups or self-isolating.
Cupboard stored ready-meals delivered to your door. They are taking new customers but delivery can take 3 to 4 days.
Vibrant Vegan Co.
Vegan ready meals delivered to your door.
HelloFresh deliver ingredients for you to cook set meals you’ve chosen from their menu.
Gousto also deliver ingredients for you to cook set meals but they are only taking orders from existing customers.
Other food deliveries
Food banks are community organisations that support people who cannot afford the essentials. Search online for your local food bank or find a food bank on the Trussell Trust website.