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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) the viability of the food and drink wholesale sector and (b) food provision in (i) care homes, (ii) prisons, (iii) hospitals and (iv) other public sector institutions over the next 12 months.
Defra is monitoring the potential impacts COVID-19 is having on the food and drink wholesale sector, in partnership with industry and other Government departments. We remain committed to working with industry to respond to these challenges as they evolve and to assess whether current support mechanisms are sufficient and effective.
Defra is working very closely with officials from the Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence on ensuring food supply continues to schools, prisons, hospitals and other public sector institutions over the next 12 months. To support care homes, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD)has set up a new online portal Food2Care (www.Food2Care.co.uk) to enable care homes to find local wholesalers, based on a postcode search. The website is also highlighted on the Care Providers Association website. This portal will help those care homes struggling to get supplies during the Covid-19 outbreak. More than 90 national and regional wholesalers have signed up to the scheme so far.
Additionally, FWD's initiative, Local Food Drops (www.localfooddrops.co.uk), has been designed to help local communities get better access to food supplies during these unprecedented times with flexible delivery and 'click and collect' options.