‘We need more food’: Newcastle join Rochdale as second council to challenge government on aid parcels

A second Northern council has voiced concerns over the quality of food parcels received by the government.

Newcastle City Council officials have joined Rochdale Council leader Allen Brett in criticising the nutrition levels of the packages.

Like Rochdale, the Tyne authority is also improving the quality of the parcels with their produce they have sourced locally themselves.

North-East councillors have additionally re-deployed around 10 staff to “supplement” the parcels involved in the government’s direct delivery system for vulnerable people.

A statement from the authority said the consignment of government food the council received included soup, beans, tea, oats, apples, ready meals, juice, biscuits, Crunchies, and Angel Delight, food which the council understands has reached nearly 6,000 people in need.

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, added: “I know there has been some comment about the quality of the food given by [the] Government. While all food is welcome it’s important that people get nutritious food especially if they can’t get out and get exercise.

“In these cases, we are doing our best to supplement the parcels with other foods so people can get a balanced diet – but we need more food.

“There is a massive effort across the city to ensure the most vulnerable receive food.”

Forbes’ Labour authority have teamed up with a local Morrisons store to provide food after a council helpline received roughly 150 requests in relation to food in less than a week, on top of those eligible for a food package in the government’s direct delivery scheme.

Newcastle City Council believes that every vulnerable person who registered for one of those parcels should now have received it, but are using another government food delivery to make up 50-or-so packages for others.

A total of 28 extra food parcels have now been made up and distributed to families and individuals by the council.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government said in a statement.

“We are delivering food boxes directly to the homes of extremely medically vulnerable people, at the highest risk form coronavirus.

“Our food boxes 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.

“Councils have been issued with some additional supplies to help kickstart their wider efforts – but these should not be confused for a food box.” 

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