You should talk to family, friends or your support network to see if they can help you get food and medicine.

Help for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable

People who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable are advised they no longer need to shield.

Priority online shopping ending

Participating supermarkets will continue to offer you priority access to delivery slots until 21 June 2021 (if you registered before 31 March 2021).

After 21 June 2021 you can book supermarket deliveries as normal. You could ask friends, family or volunteers to collect and deliver shopping and/or medicines for you.

Anyone struggling can still ask for help with your shopping or medication delivery from Dorset Council.

Free school meals

Dorset Council is working with schools to make sure families who need it (including those who receive free school meals) can receive food vouchers.

If your child gets free school meals, their school will give you details of the scheme including information about getting vouchers during the summer holidays.

Find out more and apply for free school meals.

NHS Healthy Start scheme

Families on certain benefits can get free vouchers every week as part of the NHS Healthy Start scheme to spend on:

  • Milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, vitamins and infant formula milk.
  • No longer need to get a health professional to sign the form OR send in copies of their universal credit award notice – which put many eligible families off applying previously
  • Extension of vouchers expiry date - now have 12 weeks to use them not 4 weeks.
  • Application can be done on line

Other sources of food

We have been working closely with local support groups and charities to help provide communities with the best support possible. If you would like to find out more about the types of community support available, you can search for your local area on the Help and Kindness website


Food banks are run by the community for the community. A food bank is a place where donated food is distributed to those in need or in an emergency.

Each food bank will have its own system for supporting those in need. Many use a referral system where an organisation can help you with other needs and can give you a referral number for the foodbank. 

Once you are there your voucher number will usually be redeemed for three days worth of food. Food banks normally provide non-perishable foods unless otherwise stated and will tailor if possible, any special dietary requests e.g. vegetarian. They may also provide other items such as toiletries to supplement the pack.

Visit the Help and Kindness website for information on local foodbanks

Community Shops (Social Supermarkets)

A community shop or pantry will provide cheaper, good quality, nutritious food to families and individuals who have limited disposable income. Families or individuals can sign up to become a member. The purpose is to help people top up their weekly shop, the variety of food available may include fresh fruit and veg, store cupboard favourites, bread, dairy products as well as frozen items.

Members can choose a set number of items for an agreed price each week including fresh items as available. Local community shops also work to reduce the waste of surplus food by linking with supermarkets and making fresh food accessible for a low cost or free. 

Examples of local community shops are:

Community Fridges

A community fridge can be accessed by anyone in the community, and anyone can give to or take food from the fridge. It has 

  • It enables fresh food to be shared within a community
  • reduces food waste
  • enables people facing hardship to have easy access to fresh, nutritious food
  • connects communities 

There are some rules on what you can and cannot put in the fridge (for health and safety reasons), so do check this when you visit. 

View available community fridges on the Help and Kindness website

Read further information about community fridges on the Hubbub website

Community Meals

A wide variety of meal offers are available locally. 

View organisations offering community meals on the Help and Kindness website


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