Welfare Food Scheme

Healthy Start is a government scheme that provides free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, infant formula, and vitamins to certain pregnant women and children. Note: this leaflet gives a brief summary of the Healthy Start scheme and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations nor is it a full statement of the law. Sources of more detailed information are given at the end.

Who can get help from the Healthy Start scheme?

People who are eligible include the following:

  • If you are pregnant or have at least one child under four years old, and you or your family are receiving:
    • Income Support
    • Or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
    • Or Child Tax Credit and the family has an income below a certain limit (the limit for April 2011/2012 is £16,190 or less)
  • If you are pregnant and are under 18 years old

How does it work?

If you are accepted on to the scheme you get vouchers sent to you in the post every four weeks. Each voucher is worth £3.10 (at April 2011). If you are pregnant then you get one voucher for each week. Each child aged 1-4 years gets one voucher for each week. A baby under one year old gets two vouchers for each week. You will also get advice about healthy eating, breast-feeding, infant feeding, and how to use the vouchers.

Many well known shops and supermarkets take part in the scheme. They exchange the vouchers for:

  • Fresh milk
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Baby-milk formula

Many shops who take part in the scheme will have a Healthy Start sticker in the window. The foods have to be the specified types of food. For example, the milk must be liquid cow's milk and not flavoured types. The infant formula must be based on cow's milk and be a type that is suitable from birth. The fruit and vegetables have to be fresh, not frozen or tinned, but including salad. It does not include fruit juices or smoothies. Also, you should use the full value of the vouchers as you cannot get change from them.

In addition, you can get free vitamin supplements. Your midwife or health visitor will let you know how these are provided in your local area.

How do I apply to get Healthy Start vouchers?

You need to get a claim form. You can:

  • Phone the Department of Health Publications Orderline on 0300 123 1002 (minicom 0300 123 1003) and ask for a form to be sent to you (form HS01)
  • Or ask your midwife or health visitor for a form
  • Or get a form online at www.healthystart.nhs.uk

Once you have filled in the form, you need your midwife or health visitor to sign the form to confirm that you are pregnant and/or have children under the age of four. Then send the form to the address on the form.

How can I find out more?

Sources of further information about Healthy Start and other benefits that you may be entitled to include:

The Healthy Start website

Web: www.healthystart.nhs.uk

Directgov

Web: www.direct.gov.uk.
Directgov provides information from across UK government departments on topics ranging from travel safety and parental leave, to special educational needs, local NHS services, and benefits. The site also brings together an increasing number of online government services - including being able to download and/or complete certain benefit claim forms online.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Provides independent advice on many issues including benefits. Listed in the phone book under 'Citizens Advice Bureaux'. Also, see their excellent website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk