Woolworth's new plan to help elderly people amid coronavirus panic buying

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Woolworths has rolled out an innovative plan to save vulnerable and elderly people from needing to battle with shoppers panic buying essential items at the supermarket.

Toilet paper and other products currently in high demand due to the coronavirus outbreak will be delivered straight to the doors of the people who need it most as part of the retailer’s partnership with the Meals on Wheels program.

Woolworths made the announcement on Friday, the same day the government advised that mass gatherings of more than 500 people should not go ahead and warned Australians against all unnecessary international travel.

The first delivery of toilet paper was made to the Meals on Wheels Central Coast branch in Tuggerah on Friday morning, with more deliveries across NSW to follow throughout next week, Woolworths said.

The first toilet paper drop-off at the Meals on Wheels Tuggerah branch on Friday. Source: Supplied

As part of the plan, so far rolled out in NSW only, volunteers are handing out a four-pack of toilet paper along with their usual prepared meals.

The same support is expected to begin being offered to people in other states in coming weeks, according to the supermarket.

Residents across NSW had expressed difficulty getting their hands on toilet paper to Meals on Wheels volunteers, according to CEO Les MacDonald.

“We run special shopping assistance programs for the elderly at various Meals on Wheels branches around NSW and our volunteers have faced challenges in sourcing products such as toilet paper for those we support,” Mr Les said.

“We would like to thank Woolworths for recognising that Meals on Wheels is an integral part of all communities and for lending a helping hand at this time to support the most vulnerable in our community.”

Elderly and vulnerable people will no longer need to scramble for toilet paper in stores. Source: Getty Images

Claire Peters, Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, said the retail giant felt it necessary to contribute to the cause due to the recent “unprecedented demand on certain products”.

“We are pleased to begin working with Meals on Wheels in NSW to help provide for the elderly and vulnerable in the community,” Ms Peters said.

“Due to the unprecedented demand on certain products in our stores, we’ve heard that many elderly and vulnerable people in the community are missing out on items they may need when they shop.

“While we’ll continue to do our very best to continue restocking our stores, we encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in your community at this time who might need help and ensure that we continue to support each other.”

A relived man receiving a delivery of sought-after toilet paper. Source: Supplied

There have been chaotic scenes inside Coles, Woolworths and Aldi stores of customers rushing to stock up on pantry staples and toilet paper.

In response, supermarkets introduced limits on the number of units shoppers were allowed to purchase per transaction.

Coles followed Woolworths’ lead on Friday and announced it would be limiting purchases of pasta, four, dry rice, paper towels, paper tissues and hand sanitisers to two items per customer, beginning on Saturday.

It also said it would be temporarily banning customers from retuning items they no longer wanted, the same policy Woolworths rolled out days earlier.

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