Updated: Friday, 5th June 2020 @ 4:07pm

'Dry noodles, one apple...': Rochdale Council in row over government food parcels

'Dry noodles, one apple...': Rochdale Council in row over government food parcels

| By Ethan Davies

A row has broken out between the government and Rochdale Borough Council after the Greater Manchester authority criticised the quality of government food parcels.

Yesterday, councillors in Rochdale claimed their parcels only “contained tea bags, cordial, one apple, chocolate bars, dry noodles, and gingerbread biscuits” – not the “ready meals and more nutritionally-balanced items” seen in “other parts of the country”.

They also claimed only 44 of the 129 promised parcels were delivered.

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government said that whilst “councils have been issued with some additional supplies to help kickstart their wider efforts” to care for vulnerable people, these packages “should not be confused for a food box.”

The government maintains Rochdale Council’s account is misleading.

“[This picture] is not one of the food boxes we are delivering directly to the homes of extremely medically vulnerable people.

“Our food boxes are of a standard that is consistent and include cereal, fruit and vegetables and pasta. As much as possible, this is a package that is universally suitable, and will provide enough food for one person for one week."

A council spokesman said: “We do not recognise the Secretary of State’s description of these packages being additional supplies to kick-start wider efforts as they were linked directly to our shielded residents.

"While we are pleased to hear reports that packages sent directly to homes were of a higher standard, we also note that other councils have expressed concerns about the quality of the initial packages they received from government.”

Council Leader Allen Brett then called on the government to do more to improve the quality of what is being provided.

“Everyone appreciates that this is an unprecedented situation but the parcels that have been provided were not of the quality we were expecting.

“Thankfully our council officers are able to source food locally and add them to the packs to ensure that those receiving them have a better choice of items.”

More parcels – which will include fresh fruit, tinned vegetables, and pasta – are expected to go out this week from wholesalers across the country, taking the initial total of delivered packages to more than 50,000.

However, the government state that hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week – dependent on demand.