Sadiq Khan has written to major supermarkets asking them to help the capital’s food banks maintain their levels of stock “as a matter of urgency” over the Easter period, saying that some have already been forced to close or are approaching that point with many “reporting critical shortages of food”.
Pointing out that the number of Universal Credit claimants has risen sharply across the country due to the economic damage the coronavirus has caused, the Mayor has requested supermarket firms to “organise additional direct donations” to food banks in greatest need of more supplies and create priority online booking slots for them.
The letter says “it has become clear that there are food banks in up to seven London boroughs” running very low on goods, creating “a real risk of people going without food during this crisis” and that City Hall can provide contact details for the organisations concerned. Khan also draws attention to the needs of such as women’s refuges and homeless hostels and asks that stores make it easier for all “emergency food aid organisations” to purchase in bulk from stores themselves.
The Mayor heaps praise on supermarkets for their contribution so far, thanking them for their “huge measures, including financial support and food donations to frontline charities, as well as making it easier for people to donate food in your stores”. He also recognises that supermarket staff “are on the frontline of this crisis, working each day to support people across London and the UK” and says the drive to keep food supply lines going has been “incredible”.
Writing for On London yesterday, senior Labour London Assembly Member Nicky Gavron emphasised the growing importance of the capital’s food banks to Londoners of limited means at a time when the impacts of the virus have made it harder to keep them going, partly due to reductions in staffing levels – a point Khan’s letter also makes. Gavron too praised the work of supermarkets during the crisis so far and urged Londoners to assist food banks by making their own donations of food or money.
Earlier this week, Liberal Democrat London Mayor candidate Siobhan Benita called for all supermarket workers in the capital to be paid the London Living Wage as a reward for “putting themselves at risk of catching the virus every day so that Londoners can get essential food and supplies”.
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