"Communities are coming together to work their way through the coronavirus outbreak, and this was evidenced in the very first order we received."
Tyneside Foodservice, which usually provides products for caterers and chefs in the region, shared the update via a Facebook post – and after hundreds of shares and 25,000 views in just six hours, the wholesaler is keen to push the message wider.
Shoppers are being greeted with long queues and empty shelves at many supermarkets, with online orders being often accompanied with a four week wait for home delivery.
And Tyneside Foodservice, based in Blaydon, Tyne & Wear, is hoping to provide an alternative solution to help the general public with basic food needs.
It has launched an essentials food box, containing items such as pasta, toilet roll, bread, rice, milk, and cereal, with people able to collect from their depot in Blaydon or request delivery.
Director John Hervin said: “Communities are coming together to work their way through the coronavirus outbreak, and this was evidenced in the very first order we received.
“The customer purchased an essentials box and asked us to give it to someone who really needed it such as an NHS worker or someone in a high-priority category.
“Although we are still servicing our trade customers who have takeaway facilities, we do have spare capacity as a result of the government’s decision to close pubs, schools and restaurants.
“We are hoping to fill that capacity by supporting the general public with their food needs.”
Tyneside Foodservice is a member of buying and marketing group Fairway Foodservice, and Tyneside is in close contact with all of its suppliers and manufacturers to ensure supply can meet demand.
John added: “Our supply chain has said it is business as usual for them – whatever our customers need, they can provide.
“This includes reviewing pack sizes, which are typically larger due to being for caterers and chefs.
“We are doing everything we can to support our community.”
Anyone who wishes to purchase a box for themselves or someone else can create an account on the Tyneside Foodservice website.
While orders can be placed over the telephone on 0191 414 6000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm), Tyneside is urging people to leave the lines free for those without internet access.
Boxes can be collected the following day or delivered within two working days.
Tyneside Foodservice’s depot is on Patterson Street at the Blaydon Haughs Industrial Estate. For more information visit www.tynesidefoodservice.com