Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Food Fund guidance for local authorities

Guidance for local authorities on the Food Fund which will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Food Fund guidance for local authorities
Guiding Principles

A series of guiding principles has been developed to support local thinking about how funding can best be targeted and deployed. These principles are as follows:

  • Local flexibility – a single response is unlikely to meet the varied needs as set out above. Local partners should be flexible and consider multiple approaches. It is advised that local authorities provide a clear contact point so that members of the public are able to self-identify as being in need of assistance.
  • Partnership working – collaborative working across all sectors will be needed to avoid the duplication of effort and to meet demand. This will be key to supporting people who may not have engaged with statutory or community services before. Further information on community food organisations is available at Annex B.   
  • Home delivery – those who are unable to physically access food retailers will need supplies delivered to them. Local partners should consider ways of boosting the capacity of retail home delivery services.
  • Financial support consider cash or vouchers where practical for those that are financially struggling. Providing cash or vouchers may reduce pressure on the wider local partner response. It will be for local authorities to decide the suitability or otherwise of this approach in their communities, and together with community organisations make crisis support payments and determine need, taking a pragmatic approach.

    The Department for Work and Pensions has advised that local welfare provision -  such as financial and in-kind payments made by the local authority to help meet an immediate short term need arising out of an exceptional event or exceptional circumstances, and that requires to be met to avoid a risk to the well-being of an individual - will be disregarded when it comes to benefits. This means that a crisis cash payment, voucher or card provided by a local authority should not affect social security entitlement under the current circumstances.

    Financial or other support made by third sector organisations is unlikely to affect entitlement except in the very unlikely event that these were accumulated (i.e. in the form of capital sums).

  • Dietary needs - when designing local food provision, care should be taken to consider nutritional value, dietary requirements and the cultural appropriateness of food provided. Food Standards Scotland can be contacted for advice on locally-designed food provision to ascertain that this is broadly in line with the Eatwell Guide recommendations:
  • Whole household, whole need responses – rather than targeting support at individuals, the needs of the whole household should be considered. This should consider the other essentials that may be required and for which support is offered through existing schemes such as fuel cards, period products, or social contact that respects social distancing guidelines.

    This is an emergency situation but local partners will wish to ensure as far as possible that decisions taken in the coming weeks promote the dignity and choice of everyone in affected households. This is a key mechanism for upholding high standards of care.

Bringing community food organisations in to delivery can provide a range of benefits and enhance reach. Community food organisations are often vital sources of social contact and can still provide virtual support. Nourish Scotland and the Dignity Peer Network have produced advice on how to maintain dignity in community food provision.