Swathes of vulnerable and elderly shoppers are still struggling to access food delivery services across the UK as consumer groups call for urgent action to help those most at risk.
Which? reported that it has heard from over a thousand people at risk of going hungry because they can’t access online grocery services, with many staying up into the early hours to try and secure a delivery slot.
Many at-risk customers described delivery slots as “gold dust”, adding that they couldn’t fine they help they needed locally and were often forced to risk their health and visit supermarkets in person.
Which? has called on supermarkets, the government, the food industry and local charities to make dramatic changes and begin coordinating more closely in order to fix the current system.
“Based on the huge number of reports we’re seeing from vulnerable people struggling to get access to basic food and supplies, it’s clear that the current system is not working for those who need it the most,” Which? head of consumer protection Sue Davies said.
It added that there should be a simpler process to enable high-risk people to access deliveries, alongside more communication so customers know how to access support.
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The Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “We encourage anyone who is shielding, self-isolating or otherwise unable to leave their home to contact their local convenience store.
“Thousands of convenience stores have stepped up to ensure that vulnerable people get the essentials that they need, providing over 600,000 home deliveries a week, and enabling volunteers to collect and pay for goods on behalf of others.”
A Government spokeswoman added: “We are determined to ensure the most vulnerable are supported during this pandemic.
“Working closely with councils, the NHS and the food industry, we have delivered over 900,000 parcels of food to clinically extremely vulnerable people through the shielding programme.
“For those who do not fall into the shielded group, there is other support available. Vulnerable people can refer themselves to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme by calling 0808 196 3646. Local councils may also be able to offer emergency support.”