Ministers and supermarkets must work together to ensure key workers and the vulnerable get the food they need, says UNISON.
The union says there must be co-ordinated measures to prioritise health staff and other public service workers who are unable to buy even the basics at the end of their shifts because of the widespread panic buying.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“Sadly the time has come for ministers to take more decisive action to avoid key workers and vulnerable people being left without food after selfish and irresponsible stockpiling.
“Government calls for people not to hoard food and to consider others when shopping have fallen on deaf ears, leaving many to suffer.
“Supermarket shelves are stripped bare by the early morning. Shop staff are abused and the people putting themselves at risk to look after us are left with little or nothing.
“While some supermarkets must be praised for setting aside dedicated time for key workers and the elderly to shop, the initiative is patchy and doesn’t take account of shift patterns. If people can’t make the early morning window, they miss out on food.
“More must be done now. Ministers and the supermarkets must get a grip of this problem and shoppers need to change their behaviour to protect the people protecting us.”