New Government food hampers which will be sent out to 1.5 million vulnerable people from this weekend will contain packets of biscuits following a personal intervention by Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick.

The packages are intended to provide enough food and supplies to last a vulnerable person living alone for a week. Their contents include a packet of cornflakes, penne pasta, tinned fruit, tea bags, a packet of apples and rolls of lavatory paper.

Mr Jenrick, the communities minister, told Friday’s Chopper’s Politics podcast: “I have always been partial to a biscuit, particularly when I am in the house on my own, raiding the cupboards.

“So we had a big debate about what people might like, and there was a strong view that we should have some good biscuits – and custard creams were certainly high up there.”

Mr Jenrick, who will personally deliver some of the boxes this weekend to people stuck at home because of coronavirus, said they will eventually be tailored to individual tastes despite being generic for now.

He added: “Most of these boxes will not be going to families, because the question we are asking is do you have family, friends, neighbours who can help you through the next 12 weeks?”

Mr Jenrick said he wanted people without a “personal support network”, living alone or with an elderly partner who needs to stay at home “to raise your hand”.

He added: “The boxes are not designed for large numbers of people, but they should be enough for one or two people hopefully to live quite comfortably for a week.

“This is just the beginning. I don’t pretend that this is ideal, but none of this existed a week ago – we have worked round the clock to develop this system.”

The food and produce in the boxes can be tailored for diabetics and other people with specific dietary needs, he said, explaining: “We will start to make them more tailored to individual needs, and people will be able to choose some of the products in them, some of the things they actually enjoy eating and drinking.” 

Listen for free to Chopper’s Politics here

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