Sunday 29 March 2020 5:12 pm

Coronavirus: Deliveroo to provide 500,000 free meals to NHS staff

Deliveroo has pledged to deliver 500,000 free meals to NHS workers across the country as the UK gears up for the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

The delivery firm said it has begun providing meals to NHS trusts, while customers will be able to donate funds to buy food for doctors and nurses through its app.

Deliveroo has already secured donations of 350,000 free meals, 300,000 of which have been offered by Pizza Hut.

Itsu and Neat Burger — a plant-based restaurant backed by Lewis Hamilton — are among the other eateries that have contributed to the initiative.

Under the plans, meals will be delivered in bulk to NHS sites when workers are at the end of their shift.

The scheme will deliver to sites such as hospitals, primary care sites and field hospitals such as the new Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre in east London.

Deliveroo will also continue its scheme to deliver food to vulnerable people during the crisis through tie-ups with charities such as St Mungo’s.

“Those in the NHS working night and day to save lives are the real heroes of this crisis, and we want to do our small part to support them and the vulnerable who aren’t able to leave their homes,” said Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu.

“Thanks to our dedicated riders, the generosity of our restaurant partners and their teams who are keeping kitchens open to serve those most in need, we hope to be able to make a difference.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The nation needs the NHS like never before, and we must support every single colleague in the NHS.

“I’m delighted that Deliveroo and partners are playing their part in this great national effort with half a million meals for the NHS. We can best come through this if we pull together.”

It is the latest example of a company donating money or resources to the fight against the pandemic amid concerns the NHS will struggle to cope with the crisis.

Airbnb today announced it will provide NHS and other frontline medical workers free accommodation, with nearly 1,500 places already offered by UK hosts.

It forms part of the company’s global plan to provide somewhere to stay for up to 100,000 healthcare professionals, relief workers and first responders.

Apple and Facebook have donated millions of face masks to help fight the pandemic, while chemicals giant Ineos and luxury group LVMH have repurposed their production lines to manufacture hand sanitiser.

It comes a week after Deliveroo’s boss urged the government to relieve the pressure on supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis by funding a public information campaign explaining the safety of takeaway outlets.

Shu has written a letter to the prime minister to say that the package of economic support announced by the government so far will not be enough to allow restaurants to continue to offer takeaways.