National Food Strategy and Healthy Start
National Food Strategy
The Food Strategy Part 1 was released in July 2020 and contains recommendations to improve and develop the UK’s food system. ‘It focuses on making sure a generation of our most disadvantaged children do not get left behind’ (National Food Strategy, Part One, 2020, p.7)
Healthy Start Scheme
Healthy Start is a Government scheme for those that are pregnant or have a child under four years old and in receipt of certain benefits. The scheme provides vouchers to spend in a range of retailers on some basic foods, such as fruit and vegetables and milk.
Currently each voucher is worth £3.10. One of the recommendations is that the vouchers could increase in value to £4.25 per week. This would be the first increase since 2006.
What would an increase of £2.25 mean?
We have calculated a family could purchase the following items for £4.25 in exchange for their voucher at a local supermarket:
Frozen peas: 61p
Bag satsumas: 93p
This increase of £1.15 would equate to £59.80 extra for the family to spend per year on healthy foods. If the family had a child under the age of 1, or more than one child eligible for Healthy Start vouchers this figure would increase further.
Supermarkets adding value
It is great to hear of supermarkets such as Iceland supporting the scheme with a new deal that gives customers using their Healthy Start Voucher an extra bag of frozen vegetables free.
Proposed expansion of the scheme
Another recommendation is to expand the scheme to every pregnant woman and to all households with children under 4 where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits. In Leeds, this would dramatically increase the number of eligible claimants , further helping local families to live healthier lives.
What can you do?
Before lockdown in March, the rate of uptake of Healthy Start was 79% for Leeds, this has now dropped dramatically to 56%, which is concerning.
Now is a great time to promote this scheme to families we work with, simply asking the question, have they heard of Healthy Start?
We look forward to Part 2 of the National Food Strategy, which is expected to be released in 2021. For more information about Healthy Start visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Zest has a supply of Healthy Start leaflets including application forms and envelopes. If you require some leaflets to give out to families you are working with and supporting, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more information and to receive updates on the Healthy Start scheme please contact Esther Bissell, Healthy Start Development Worker, Zest, firstname.lastname@example.org