With Healthy Start, you can get free vouchers every week which you swap for milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and infant formula milk. In theory you can also get free vitamins. Healthy Start replaces the Welfare Food Scheme. The vouchers have to be taken to a participating retailer – the website has a list of the retailers searchable by postcode.
It is a means tested benefit that an applicaton form has to be filled in for – part of which has to completed by a health professional – it can be applied for online
Have never been keen on means testing as a method of targetting – probably because I have some not very fond memories of standing in the free school meals queue at Sedgefield Comprehensive. Aside from the stigma issue with means testing I would argue that it is often an inefficient way of doing things – creating large bureacracies in order to establish entitlement and then police the system, and by so doing limiting the take up of the very people that are being targeted. (The only evidence on uptake I have been able to find so far suggests that it is similiar to the welfare food scheme it replaced at around 55% of the potential beneficiaries.) Hence, other people have also to invest time and effort in advising and supporting people to make claims – a quick internet search will reveal the level of confusion about healthy start vouchers – who is entitled, how do you make a claim who fillsi in the form and so on. See Emma’s diary Netmums
Having said that a means tested scheme for supporting early years nutrition for pregnant women and parents on low incomes is better than no scheme.
One of the distinctie features of this scheme is the availability of vitamin supplements. However, I am aware that there has been some difficulties with the supply of vitamins The website has the following to say about the vitamins available on the scheme
Why are vitamin supplements important?
You will get most of the vitamins you need if you eat healthy foods. However:
- your young children may not get enough vitamin A, C and D from their food
- pregnant and breastfeeding women may not get enough vitamin D or folic acid which may harm their baby
Ask your health visitor or midwife where to get the free vitamins for you and your children. Take the letter attached to your vouchers with you to claim your free vitamins.
The Healthy Start vitamins are also for sale at some NHS clinics.
Over the next week will contact all the pharmacies in the Support from the Start target area to ask if Healthy Start vitamins can be obtained and if not why not. I will post the result of this survey here.