Thousands of bags of fresh fruit and veg sent out to frontline medics

Every Lidl helps: Thousands of bags of fresh fruit and veg are ready to be sent out to frontline NHS medics after budget supermarket teamed up The Royal Voluntary Service in battle against coronavirus

  • Thousands of bags of fresh fruit and vegetables lined up ready to be delivered to frontline NHS workers
  • Lidl is giving away the bags for free to NHS staff, handing them over to workers at hospitals across Britain 
  • Photographs show rows of bags ready for distribution in Essex, and NHS staff taking delivery in Edinburgh 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Thousands of bags of fresh fruit and vegetables are being lined up ready to be delivered to frontline doctors and nurses fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Lidl is giving away the bags for free to NHS workers, handing them over to staff at hospitals across Britain after teaming up with the Royal Voluntary Service.

Photographs showed rows of bags ready for distribution at a depot in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, while other pictures revealed NHS staff taking delivery of a batch at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

Thousands of bags of fresh fruit and vegetables are being lined up ready to be delivered to NHS workers in Southend-on-Sea

Photographs showed rows of bags ready for distribution at a Lidl depot in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, over the weekend

Lidl is giving away the bags – pictured in Southend – for free to NHS workers, handing them over to staff at hospitals in the UK

Lidl GB chief executive Christian Hartnagel said: ‘We are so grateful to the NHS and all of its staff for their hard work every day to help keep the nation safe.

‘This is our small gesture to say thank you, and help provide NHS staff, who may not be able to get into store regularly for basic groceries, with fresh fruit and vegetables.

‘We hope that through working with Royal Voluntary service to donate these bags to hospitals, we can help make a difference to their daily life.’

Sam Ward, director of services at Royal Voluntary Service, added: ‘It’s our mission to give support to those who need it in the community and in hospitals.

Lidl has been working with the Royal Voluntary Service to deliver the packages, including the above in Edinburgh

NHS staff are pictured taking delivery of a batch of the free fruit and vegetables at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh

‘We commend the country’s brilliant NHS staff in all the important work they are doing during this challenging situation.’

How UK supermarkets are helping NHS workers 


Every Sunday all Tesco stores are prioritising a browsing hour before checkouts open for NHS workers


Sainsbury’s is reserving the first hour – 8am to 9am – in all of its supermarkets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for NHS staff and social care workers, as well as elderly and vulnerable customers


Morrisons now has an NHS hour at the beginning of every day, apart from Sunday, from 7am to 8am


Asda is prioritising NHS workers in larger stores every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 9am.


Lidl is working with Royal Voluntary Service to donate thousands of fresh fruit and vegetable bags to NHS hospital workers across Britain.


All day, every day, key workers in the NHS, police and fire service get priority ahead of queues into its stores, in addition to early access on a Sunday, where they can enter stores 30 minutes prior to opening.


NHS workers get priority access on Monday to Saturday, 8am to 9am, and on Sunday, from 10am to 11am.


The final hour of trading from Monday to Friday is dedicated to NHS staff.


Waitrose shops are setting aside a proportion of hard-to-find and essential products exclusively for NHS staff, on production of an NHS card. It is also giving NHS staff a priority checkout service.

Lidl is also rolling out its customer food donation boxes in stores nationwide, as part of its Feed it Back scheme, and donating £100,000 to a partnership with the Neighbourly website to help vulnerable people and children.

Meanwhile food parcels began arriving at the doors of the most vulnerable people who are being shielded from coronavirus.

The first 2,000 packages were delivered over the weekend to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions put them at risk.

The Government expects more than 50,000 deliveries this week but this could rise to hundreds of thousands of boxes, depending on demand.

The packages contain essentials such as toilet roll, pasta, fruit and tinned goods and are being directed at those self-isolating for 12 weeks but have little support from family or friends.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick joined a delivery in Paddock Wood, Kent, where a pack of chocolate cereal was also included.

‘This weekend sees the start of extraordinary steps to support the most clinically vulnerable, while they shield from coronavirus,’ he said.

‘We will support these people at this difficult time, and the scale of an operation like that has not been seen since the Second World War.’

While the deliveries will be welcomed, there are major concerns over the mounting pressure being heaped on the food banks that routinely serve those too poor to buy ingredients.

A total of 1.5 million extremely vulnerable people are being asked to shield themselves. Officials say 900,000 have been written to so far to inform them of the steps.

But GPs must contact 600,000 more who are not on a national register, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said.

Also today, supermarket chain Morrisons revealed it will give away £10million worth of goods to food banks across the country during the pandemic.

Chief executive David Potts said its bakery, egg, and fruit and vegetable departments will run for an extra hour every day to make, prepare and pack food required to restock the services.

It will also be sending deliveries of ambient food – such as canned goods and pasta – to local food banks via ‘community champions’.

The move comes after food banks across the UK were forced to close or reduce hours after the coronavirus crisis led to a decline in volunteers and a shortage in donations.

Last week, the Co-op said it would donate £1.5 million worth of food to the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, FareShare, to help boost stocks and support local communities struggling because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, one of the world’s largest box makers is working with supermarkets to produce a new ‘stack and drop’ delivery system for vulnerable shoppers stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

The first 2,000 food packages were delivered over the weekend to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions put them at risk. An example of a box is pictured on Saturday in Tonbridge, Kent

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick helps deliver free food boxes to the most vulnerable in Tonbridge on Saturday

DS Smith said grocers are looking at new and unique ways for delivery drivers to avoid contact and for housebound families who need food parcels.

Bosses at the company added that with all non-essential workers in lockdown and an increase in household waste expected, it was vital to keep recycling, with 85% of cardboard in production coming from recycled materials.

Alex Manisty, group head of strategy at the FTSE 100 company, said: ‘The retailers needed something that allows them to do more home deliveries. 

‘It’s much better for vulnerable people because they don’t have to go out of their homes.’ 

Deliveroo to provide 500,00 free meals to NHS staff while restaurants join forces to provide hot dishes

Food delivery service Deliveroo will make half a million meals available to NHS staff for free amid the coronavirus crisis.

The London-based company said it is working with restaurant partners to provide food to frontline workers, and had already received pledges of 350,000 free meals.

Deliveroo customers ordering food will also be able to donate through the app, contributing funds to buy meals for nurses and doctors. It becomes the latest company to offer their support to NHS staff battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Deliveroo cyclist makes his way through empty streets on Brick Lane in East London last Friday

Donations to the food delivery company have been led by Pizza Hut, who pledged 300,000 meals, providing pizzas, side salads, pasta dishes and other options for NHS workers near their restaurants.

Deliveroo, who will raise funds to support the campaign, said Itsu and Lewis Hamilton’s plant-based Neat Burger restaurant had also made donations.

Meals have already started being delivered to NHS trusts in London and will be increased to cater to more hospitals across the UK.

While the food delivery service said the majority of meals will go to NHS staff, Deliveroo said it will continue to deliver free food to vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The nation needs the NHS like never before, and we must support every single colleague in the NHS.

‘I’m delighted that Deliveroo and partners are playing their part in this great national effort with half a million meals for the NHS. We can best come through this if we pull together.’

Chief executive and founder of Deliveroo Will Shu said: ‘Those in the NHS working night and day to save lives are the real heroes of this crisis, and we want to do our small part to support them and the vulnerable who aren’t able to leave their homes.

‘Thanks to our dedicated riders, the generosity of our restaurant partners and their teams who are keeping kitchens open to serve those most in need, we hope to be able to make a difference.’

Meanwhile, a campaign to provide hospital staff with hot meals backed by actors Matt Lucas, Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory has surpassed £400,000 in donations.

A partnership between restaurant chain Leon, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and UCLH Healthcare NHS Trust, the FeedNHS campaign is aiming to raise £1 million to provide 6,000 meals a day for hospitals in the capital.

Other chains including Tortilla, Dishoom, Franco Manca, Wasabi, and Rosa’s Thai are also involved. 

A similar campaign called Meals for the NHS has raised more than £250,000 to help provide free hot meals for frontline staff – less than seven days after it was launched by a small group of friends.

It has since provided 4,000 meals to hospitals with tens of thousands more expected soon.

Andrew Muir Wood, one of the founders, said: ‘It’s hard for anyone to operate on an empty stomach let alone people trying to save lives, so we got together trying to work out how we could solve that.’ 

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