Healthy Start is a UK-wide government scheme to improve the health of pregnant women and families on benefits or low incomes. Healthy Start supports low-income families in eating healthily, by providing them with vouchers to spend on cow’s milk, fresh and frozen fruit & vegetables and infant formula milk, underpinned by ongoing advice and information on subjects like breastfeeding and healthy eating.
Who qualifies for Healthy Start?
Healthy start is open to pregnant women and families with children under the age of 4 who are on:
- Income Support or
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) AND an income below £16,190 a year
- All pregnant women under the age of 18 years qualify, whether or not they are on benefits
How does Healthy Start work?
- Applicants should complete a Healthy Start application form and then ask a Midwife or Health Visitor to sign it before submitting it. Supplies of the application form (HS01) can be ordered from www.orderline.dh.gov.uk
- Once accepted on the scheme, pregnant women and families receive vouchers through the post every 4 weeks
- Each voucher is worth £3.10 and can be exchanged for any combination of milk, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk in registered shops.
How many vouchers do families get?
- Pregnant women and children aged between 1 and 4 years receive 1 voucher per week (worth £3.10) for each child/pregnancy
- Babies under 1 year will receive 2 vouchers (worth a total of £6.20)
Where do recipients exchange vouchers?
A range of retailers, including all major supermarkets, are registered for Healthy Start and a list is provided on the website www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Vitamin Supplement Recommendations
Women who are trying to get pregnant, or are pregnant should take Folic Acid each day, and all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take Vitamin D.
The Government also recommends a daily dose of vitamins A, C and D for:
- Breastfed infants from 6 months (or from 1 month if there is any doubt about the mother’s vitamin status during pregnancy)
- Formula-fed infants who are over 6 months and taking less than 500 ml infant formula per day
- Children under 5 years of age
Healthy Start recipients receive coupons to exchange for free vitamin supplements.
Those who do not qualify for Healthy Start can still purchase Healthy Start vitamins from Community Pharmacies.
Carol Barnett is Maternal and Infant Nutrition Programme Manager at NHS Tayside. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01382 424109