THE leader of Crawley Borough Council has praised Aldi for being the only supermarket in town to answer a call for help to stock food parcels for those in need.

In the second of his online Q&A sessions, Peter Lamb described the work being carried out to get food to the town’s vulnerable residents.

With a warehouse set up, Mr Lamb said the council had spoken with suppliers to make sure the food needed would be accessible.

He said: “A very big thanks to Aldi, who are the one supermarket who, when the call came out, actually answered and agreed to sell us food wholesale so that people could get the food packages made up.

“It’s nice to know who’s willing to support their local community.”

He also thanked Gatwick Forklifts, of Stephenson Way, Three Bridges, for stepping up to provide 12 pallet trucks, vans and an articulated lorry.

A spokesman for Aldi said: “Now more than ever, supermarkets have a vital role to play in supporting our communities and our colleagues continue to work tirelessly to help feed the nation.”

On Friday (April 3), the council listed other local businesses which had come forward to help.

Viridor provided a forklift, skips and pallet trucks, Transvalair provided forklifts, pallet trucks and distribution vehicles while Gatwick Handling provided a forklift and pallet trucks and also picked up the goods from Aldi., DHL, Higgidy Ltd and the M&S Food Hall, in the Acorn Retail Park, all donated cardboard boxes, with M&S handing over surplus food as well.

The UKHarvest charity, which is based in Chichester, donated 50 crates of fresh fruit and vegetables, while Sussex Camper Vans provided the van to deliver all the cardboard boxes.

Mr Lamb said there had been a ‘lot of uncertainty’ over the food parcel scheme after advice over what central government would be doing became ‘increasingly confused’.

Now, with the government delivering food directly to the homes of extremely vulnerable people – such as those on immunosuppressant drugs and those undergoing cancer treatment – councils are working to provide to the rest.

Mr Lamb also offered his thanks to other groups and charities such as the Crawley Mutual Aid group running on Facebook, which has 1,400 members offering each other help and advice during the crisis.

He said: “It’s fantastic that community groups and businesses have been willing to rally around to the call.”

Looking at the cost of the food parcels, Mr Lamb said the council would try to recoup some of the money but stressed that no one who was already struggling would be landed with a heavy bill.

He added: “There will be a sliding scale depending on people’s means.

“The key thing is no one who is high risk should be having to go out right now because they haven’t got a family network who can supply them, because they haven’t got alternatives, because they haven’t got food.”

Describing how one delivery driver, on receiving no answer at a vulnerable man’s home, had found him in trouble and in desperate need of medical help, he said: “It’s important at times like this that we have a support network in place to ensure the vulnerable in our community are able to make it through.”

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