BRADFORD Council and local wholesaler Delifresh have clinched a "Heroes of Fresh Produce" award at the Fresh Produce Journal national conference.

The partnership won the award for its efforts in continuing to put fruit and vegetables on Bradford’s tables and for supporting those in need during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The partnership was one of only ten companies or individuals nominated by a judging panel made up of journalists.

During the Covid-19 pandemic Bradford Council was faced with the critical task of supplying essential food supplies to vulnerable and housebound people.

The authority sought an expert wholesale food buyer who could prepare, re-pack and deliver individual food parcels and who understood the wide-ranging food requirements of the district’s diverse communities.

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Despite carrying furloughed staff, facing increased Covid-19 regulation and reduced national food supplies, Delifresh rose to the challenge and was able to set up a direct food supply system in under seven days.

Food parcels were delivered to the most needy just 24 hours after being ordered by front line social workers and crisis teams.

During the government lockdown, over 12,000 emergency food parcels were delivered vulnerable individuals, most of which had no access to fresh foods.

Delifresh also took part of the Feed the Frontline initiative and were the only company selected outside of London to supply fruit and vegetable boxes to the frontline NHS workers.

Over a thousand bags of free fruit and vegetables were delivered to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals over eight weeks.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This award acknowledges the huge effort, expertise and innovation in local food supply chain and I am immensely proud of local efforts to tackle the pandemic across the district.

“This is a perfect example of how local government and business can work together to ensure the most vulnerable are supported.”

Noel Kershaw, Managing Director, Delifresh, said: “Delifresh were delighted to be involved in providing this essential service of delivering fresh food for the vulnerable in the city during lock down.

“It was inspirational to work with a brilliant team at the council, adopting unfamiliar roles, many on a volunteer basis and their dedication along with our colleagues at Delifresh has rightly been acknowledged with this award.”