STRUGGLING households will be able to get an extra £2 a week of free food vouchers from a major supermarket.
Sainsbury’s has promised to give customers a £2 coupon to spend on fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and veg during their next shop.
1Struggling households will be able to get an extra £2 a week in free food vouchers
Healthy Start is a government scheme to help pregnant women and low-income families with children under the age of four maintain a healthy diet.
The vouchers are worth £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week and £8.50 each week for children up to the age of one.
Once your child turns one, you will get vouchers worth £4.25 until they turn four.
Sainsbury’s will be providing a £2 coupon every week over the next six months – adding up to £52 worth of vouchers.
They will be valid from Wednesday, October 12 to Tuesday, April 11.
Shoppers in England who use a Healthy Start card when shopping will automatically receive a printed coupon at the checkout.
Sainsbury’s has more than 1,000 stores across England – you can find your local branch on the supermarket’s website.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different schemes to support low-income families.
The top-up will help families worried about being able to afford to feed their children as the cost of living soars.
Ruth Cranston, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Sainsbury’s, said: “We know that times are tough for millions of families across the country, and that the rising cost of living is causing uncertainty for many of our customers, so today we’ve announced that we’ll be topping up the Government funded NHS Healthy Start scheme by £2 for the third time.”
What are healthy start vouchers and how much are they worth?
The healthy start scheme is designed to help families cover the cost of healthy food for their kids.
Each healthy start voucher is currently worth £4.25 a week, and over a year that adds up to £221.
It’s worth double that if you have a child under the age of one as you’ll be eligible for two vouchers each week, so it’s up to £442.
There used to be paper vouchers, but that’s just been replaced by a prepaid card, so you’ll get the amounts added to that instead automatically every four weeks.
You can use the healthy start prepaid card at any location where Mastercard is accepted.
Previously, paper vouchers could be used at a wide variety of stores, but not all local shops, supermarkets or pharmacists for vitamins.
As long as the shop accepts Mastercard, you can use the card at:
Drug stores and pharmacies
Dairy products stores
You can’t use the prepaid card for online shopping, or to withdraw cash from an ATM, but you can check the balance at a cash machine.
You can use healthy start vouchers to buy a variety of items:
Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
Infant formula milk
Fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
And you can use the vouchers to get vitamins too.
Who’s eligible for a healthy start voucher?
You can get the help if you’re more than ten weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four.
You’ll need to be claiming one of the following benefits to qualify.
Child Tax Credit and an annual income of less than £16,190
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Universal Credit and income of £408 or less per month from employment
You’ll also need to be in England, Wales or Northern Ireland – in Scotland there’s a different scheme offering similar help called Best Start Foods.
Anyone aged under 18 can get the help without claiming benefits.
How do I claim healthy start vouchers?
You can apply for the healthy start scheme online on the government website.
You can also print out a paper form from the Healthy Start website here or you can request one from your GP or midwife.
Alternatively, you can request one from the healthy start helpline on 0345 607 6823. To apply, you will need your:
Date of birth
National Insurance number
Baby’s due date (if you’re pregnant)
Venefit award letter if you’re over 18
Once you’ve applied online, you should receive your card within five to 10 working days.