What is Healthy Start?
Healthy Start is a national scheme which supports healthy nutrition for children of low-income families.
Do I qualify?
You qualify for Healthy Start if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and you or your family get:
- Income Support, or
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, or
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only*) and has an annual family income of £16,190 or less (2013/14).
You automatically qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, although you will need to meet the above criteria and reapply once your baby is born using the Healthy Start Helpline, 0845 607 6823.
With Healthy Start, you get free weekly vouchers to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, infant formula milk and cow's milk.
You can also get free vitamins, women's tablets and drops for children age 6 months to 4 years.
Where can I use the vouchers?
Healthy Start vouchers for fruit, veg and milk can be used at many different retailers from supermarkets to corner shops.
Free vitamin vouchers:
Arrangements for the Healthy Start free vitamins differ depending on where you live. In Shropshire, vitamin vouchers can be taken to around 50 pharmacies across the county and exchanged for free vitamin supplement - drops for children and tablets for women. To check whether a pharmacy near you will accept Healthy Start vouchers, please check the Shropshire CCG Pharmacy webpage or the Healthy Start website.
What's in Healthy Start vitamins?
The women's tablets contain vitamins C & D and folic acid, all recommended during pregnancy. The children's drops contain vitamin A, C & D, important for young, growing children. They are suitable for vegetarians and are safe if there are allergies in the family.
Unfortunately Healthy Start vitamins are not sold in Shropshire and cannot be prescribed so they are only available to families who receive the vouchers at present. There are other multi-vitamin products available, always check the label to find out what's in them and seek advice from your midwife, health visitor, GP or pharmacist.
How do I apply?
Applying for Healthy Start is easy. If you have an application leaflet just fill out the form inside, it must be signed by midwife, health visitor or GP then sent using the freepost envelope attached. If you don't have an application form, ask your midwife for one or download it from Healthy Start's website.
Your application should be processed in around 2 weeks, if you don't hear anything after this time you will need to call the Healthy Start Helpline on: 0845 607 6823. Have your National Insurance number and Tax Credit details handy.
For any other information about Healthy Start as well as lots of advice for a healthy pregnancy and beyond visit the Healthy Start website.
If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.
Vitamin D taken during pregnancy is stored in your body to provide baby with enough vitamin D for the first few months of life helping to give them healthy bones and teeth.
Pregnant or have children under four and on benefits? You might qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to help you buy fruit, veg and milk and give important vitamins free at pharmacies.
Our main source of vitamin D is summer sunlight, hard to get enough in the UK to last the winter! No need to sunbathe; the amount of sun required is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning.
Vitamin D in pregnancy may aid a child's grip. A recent study showed that higher levels taken during pregnancy may improve children's muscle development and strength.
Are you pregnant or trying to get pregnant? Taking a folic acid supplement can reduce the chance of spina bifida in your baby.
Vitamin C can be found in lots of foods, including peppers, broccoli, oranges, kiwifruit and sweet potatoes.