Covid-19 FAQs: Food and shopping

These frequently asked questions and answers have been prepared jointly by Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) and Young Lives vs Cancer. They are based on questions we have received directly from parents and young people. Information is correct at the time of publication, but please bear in mind that things are changing quickly.

Last update: 03 Jul 2020


What help is provided by the government?

The government has asked people to register themselves as extremely vulnerable. Those that have done this will receive a food parcel of essentials. There has been mixed feedback as to the quality of these parcels and how appropriate some of the ‘essential’ items are.

The government passes the names of those who have registered as extremely vulnerable on to the supermarkets. Most supermarkets have now adapted, and prioritise people on this list for deliveries.

Access to government food parcels and priority supermarket delivery slots will remain in place until end of July when shielding is paused.

What do we mean by an extremely vulnerable person (

Register as an extremely vulnerable person (

I’ve been advised my child no longer needs to shield – does this mean I’ll no longer be able to access the government’s food parcel scheme or supermarket priority shopping slots?

While CCLG’s updated guidance on who falls into the ‘extremely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’ groups is encouraging for families who may be able to ease shielding, the overall government guidelines on shielding have not yet changed. So if you’ve already registered your child as ‘extremely vulnerable’ on the government website, you’ll still have access to the food parcel scheme and supermarket priority delivery slots.

If I opt out of the government’s food parcel scheme does this mean I won’t be able to access supermarket priority shopping slots?

The short answer here is ‘no’. In fact the reason you might want to opt out of the food parcel scheme is because you’ve got priority slots in place.

To opt out of receiving food parcels you need to complete the government form again, and tick ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?’

It may take a few weeks for the information to be processed and you’ll continue to get food parcels during this time. If you let the delivery driver know you no longer need a parcel, they should be able to make a note of it on their records so they don’t deliver to you again.

You will get a text from GOVUK once your form has been processed explaining that they are stopping your deliveries, and that this won’t affect eligibility for supermarket priority delivery slots or any deliveries you have in place already.

Will I still get free school meals?

If your child is eligible for benefits-related free school meals, the government has said you will still be able to benefit from this support even if your child is not at school. Schools can either choose to provide meals through a catering provider or can provide eligible families with vouchers during term time weeks up to £15 per eligible pupil through the EdenRed portal. In reality, the voucher scheme has been fraught with problems with parents waiting up to ten days to receive vouchers, not being able to redeem the codes, and some supermarkets not accepting them.

The supermarkets where these vouchers can be spent are*:

  • Aldi
  • McColl’s
  • Morrisons
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Asda
  • Waitrose
  • M&S

* The government is working to increase the number of supermarkets on this list

Free school meals guidance – Coronavirus (

What help is there through Local authorities and local government?

The majority of local authorities have their own localised support in place, so please look if you need this support. Remember to search at different levels of local government; city council, county council, district council, parish council, local authority – wherever it is relevant.

Find your local authority (

A-Z of councils online

Is there any support from charities and community groups?

Your Young Lives vs Cancer Social Workers can refer you to the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme for help with shopping and collecting prescriptions. 

There are a huge number of local groups who are offering local support to people. Covid Mutual Aid has many of these listed on their website, though probably not all groups so Google search if you can’t find a group local to you.

The Trussel Trust can provide emergency food relief through their network of food banks. Search to see if there is a local food bank to you that could give support.

What are shops and food providers doing to help?


  • Morrisons – Offering a doorstop delivery service for elderly and vulnerable people, which includes carers. Orders placed before 5pm will be delivered the following day. In store, 7am-8am is reserved for NHS workers.
  • Sainsburys – 8am-9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is reserved for elderly and disabled customers and their carers. Sainsbury’s is prioritising vulnerable customers for online deliveries.
  • Tesco – 9am-10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (excl. Tesco Express) for elderly and most vulnerable customers. Tesco is is prioritising vulnerable customers for delivery slots and Click & Collect
  • ASDA – 8am-9am reserved for NHS and carers have a dedicated shopping hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Coop – 8am-9am Mon-Saturday and 10am-11am on Sunday reserved for vulnerable customers, those that care for them and NHS workers. No special delivery provision for vulnerable customers.
  • Waitrose – First hour of trading in supermarkets will be for elderly and vulnerable customers and those who care for them. Again, Waitrose are prioritising vulnerable customers for delivery slots.
  • M&S – The first hour of trading on Monday and Thursday is reserved for elderly and vulnerable customers. The first hour of trading on Tuesday and Friday is reserved for NHS, carers and emergency workers. M&S has partnered with food delivery company Deliveroo to help give customers access to essential groceries as well as other M&S food
  • Iceland – First hour of trading from 7am exclusive to elderly and vulnerable customers. Iceland release new delivery slots at 11am Monday – Friday.
  • Aldi – Queue jump available for NHS, Police and Fire Service as well. Vulnerable and elderly customers are being given priority entry 30 mins before opening Monday – Saturday.  Groceries are not available to purchase online.
  • Lidl – No special provisions with deliveries or opening hours.

Shopping gift cards

Many supermarkets have launched ‘volunteer shopping cards’ which families who can’t get to the shops can pre-load and give to a friend, family or neighbours who shop for them.

Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have all introduced schemes. Morrisons recommends buying its usual vouchers

Sunflower lanyard scheme

Many supermarkets do not require proof that you are vulnerable but you may need to explain that you have a health condition. It may help if you bring any relevant documentation or ask for a sunflower lanyard, which may help gaining access in future.

How to get a sunflower lanyard (Tesco)

Sunflower lanyard scheme (Sainsbury’s)

Other food providers

  • Ocado – Prioritising existing customers for deliveries and releasing extra delivery slots after 6pm. Elderly and vulnerable customers will be prioritised for the remaining deliveries.
  • Hello Fresh – At the time of writing are still delivering meal kits.
  • Gousto – Now accepting new customers for delivery of meal kits.
  • Veg and grocery boxes – At the time of writing Riverford and Able & Cole are serving new customers. Farmdrop is still serving new customers but their delivery slots are in very high demand. Though there may be other options more local to you that are still available:

Food Box Finder

Soil Association Organic Box Finder