CHILDREN with cystic fibrosis are struggling to get food, as parents say supermarkets are refusing to acknowledge them and for priority delivery.
Despite many stores advertising dedicated slots for those on the government’s vulnerable list, parents have been told they cannot obtain a delivery as: “It must be the account holder who is vulnerable”.
Cystic fibrosis sufferers, who experience problems with their lungs and digestive system, are often children due to the life-limiting nature of the disease, who therefore do not have shopping accounts.
Faced with no delivery slots, parents say they must make the heart-wrenching decision of going without food or going to buy supplies themselves and risking their children’s safety.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust has now warned of “untold amounts of stress and anxiety” for sufferers and their families in an open letter penned to supermarkets last Thursday [26 Mar].
Two parents in this position are Tom and Alison Anderson from Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.
They say they have been unable to obtain home deliveries for their family, including 12-year-old daughter Libby, who suffers from the condition.
Tom, 48, says the family have been relying on neighbours to get by, he said: “I rang Sainsbury’s 200 times, but got nowhere. We’re socially shielding with Libby for twelve weeks so we need to get something sorted.
“If they are checking the government lists against their records and they are checking for Libby, she’s twelve years old, she’s not going to have a Sainsbury’s account.
“It’s got to the point where I’ve even thought, ‘well shall I just go out to the shop at eleven o’clock or something?’ But we just can’t risk it.”
Alison, 49, added: “It’s the not knowing, you just get desperate. It’s really stressful you know? We’re fine for now it’s just thinking about the future.
“Our neighbours have been really helpful, but it’s just not practical longer term.”
Mum Sarah Dale took to social media to beg Sainsbury’s for help. She wrote on Monday [30 Mar]: “Please help! My son (9) is extremely vulnerable, registered with government (Cystic Fibrosis).
“Still can’t get delivery slot as shopping account is in my name. I can’t leave the house and quickly running out of food/supplies. Absolutely desperate. Help please.”
However, a customer service advisor replied saying: “Unfortunately you will not be able to get a priority slot as it does need to be the account holder that’s vulnerable.”
Ali Dillon, 55 from Sevenoaks, Kent has faced similar problems, she said: “My son lives at home and I do the shopping but we are shielding as a family to protect him.
“He doesn’t have an online account with Sainsbury’s, who said it has to be the vulnerable person who buys the food.
“Firstly, children don’t have bank accounts and although my son is an adult he can’t sign up with supermarkets as they aren’t taking new registrations.”
Cystic Fibrosis Trust said in their letter they were “extremely concerned” and urged supermarkets to rethink their policy and allow families to register as “vulnerable groups”.
A spokeswoman from Sainsbury’s said: “We’re doing our very best to offer home delivery to everyone who needs it and customers who have a vulnerable member in their household can register with us to receive this service.
“We are currently experiencing really high demand and we urge everyone to keep trying.”
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition which causes the buildup of mucus in the lungs and digestive system.
There are more than 10,500 Cystic Fibrosis sufferers in the UK and the average life expectancy is just 32.