The Co-operative Party is campaigning to promote the Healthy Start Voucher scheme, which is vital in helping eligible low-income families buy healthy foods like fruit and vegetables, with the aim of reaching 100% take-up. However, in Plymouth, just 56% of Healthy Start vouchers have been claimed. This means that £4,870.50 worth of healthy food doesn’t reach those who need it.
Healthy Start is a scheme for those pregnant women and young children who are most at risk of food insecurity. Eligibility is income-based, and the vouchers are a critical means to increasing affordability of vital foods like fruit, vegetables, and milk that allow healthy food choices. The Healthy Start Vouchers are worth £4.25 from 1st April, an increase from £3.10 following Marcus Rashford’s #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY campaign.
Current provision allows eligible recipients to claim 1 voucher a week if they are pregnant or have a child aged between 1 and 4, and 2 vouchers a week if they have a child aged under 1. The Co-operative Party’s Food Justice campaign has been working to raise awareness of Healthy Start Vouchers and increase uptake to 100%. As part of this we have analysed figures to evaluate existing take-up and look at the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis that followed.
The Co-operative Party has launched a new tool on its Food Justice Finder website, which allows people to check Healthy Start take-up levels in their area and contact their Local Authority to encourage Healthy Start Voucher promotion.
Speaking about the Healthy Start scheme, Luke said:
“This scheme is so important for families in need to buy healthy foods. It is sad that there are children and families who are struggling so much – this should not be accepted by the government in this country. I am concerned to see that only 56% of vouchers in Plymouth have been claimed so I want to encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to please apply.”
The Food Justice Finder can be found here: www.foodjusticefinder.com/healthystart
If you think you may be eligible, please follow this link: www.healthystart.nhs.uk