Coronavirus: First of 10,000 NI weekly food parcels delivered

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image captionParcels are being delivered across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area

A scheme to distribute 10,000 food parcels every week has begun, with a number going out across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area.

The new service is a coordinated effort between the Department for Communities, local authorities and community groups.

The packages are being sent to people who have been told to "shield" - stay at home at all times - by a GP.

People who cannot afford food and who do not have access to local support networks are also eligible.

It is also possible for those who are not shielding, but are in critical need of food to receive parcels.

Shielding is advised for those most at risk from coronavirus, such as organ transplant patients and some people with cancer.

Across Northern Ireland there are 10,400 homes where someone is shielding, so the packages will be delivered to those homes.

'Not forgotten'

On Tuesday, about 250 food parcels arrived at Mayes Hall in Craigavon to be distributed across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council area.

The packages are made up of food and essential items, including:

  • Tinned and dried food
  • Fresh fruit
  • Bread
  • Soap

Speaking ahead of the launch of the service, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said it would also provide a vital social function.

“Not only will it ensure that the most vulnerable do not go without but it will allow those at risk of social isolation to see a friendly face and know that we as a society have not forgotten about them," she said.

The council said it had been allocated 1,056 food boxes a week, which would find their way to those who need them via six local food banks, as "they have a track record and processes in place for providing food to those most in need".

Each foodbank has been assigned a council officer who will monitor demand, manage the supply of food parcels and support home delivery.

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