The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers to parents of young children to buy healthy foods including milk, fruit and vegetables. Around a third of convenience stores currently accept them.

Following publication of the National Food Strategy, the authors want to extend its reach to all pregnant women, and children under the age of four, in households in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.

They also recommend increasing the value of the voucher from £3.10 to £4.25 and developing a national communications programme to encourage uptake.

Changes set for Healthy Start scheme

Anita Nye, of Premier Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, Kent, who has taken part in the scheme since launch, said: “It’s easy to do and it’s a win-win. Customers with vouchers usually buy other items, and there’s a feel-good factor in knowing children are getting good food.”

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish added: “The development of a national communications programme to encourage uptake would be a fantastic way to make more retailers and customers aware of the scheme.”

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