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New scheme to boost healthier eating

Greater access to healthy foods for families

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

A new scheme is being launched to help pregnant women and families with babies and children who receive certain benefits increased access to healthy foods.

The new Best Start Foods payment replaces the UK government’s Healthy Start paper vouchers with a new payment card, and is now open for applications.


The debit style payment card can be used to buy a variety of healthy foods including milk and infant formula, fruit and vegetables, pulses and eggs, and fresh, frozen or tinned, pulses.

Eligible families on low income benefits will get £17 on their card every four weeks during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. For babies up to the age of one, the payment increases to £34.

Scotland’s public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “This government is committed to doing all it can to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Scotland and give them the best start in life. That means ensuring low-income families can access the healthy foods that some may otherwise struggle to afford.

“Introducing a new payment card to replace paper vouchers will enable families to access this vital support without fear of stigma.

“We have created more ways for people to apply and have combined the application process with Best Start Grant so families can apply for four different payments on a single form.

“As with all our benefits, we want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to a payment is encouraged to apply. We will work with partners including midwives and a range of other healthcare professionals to promote Best Start Foods to ensure as many families as possible know they are entitled to this support.”

Existing users will be invited to apply on a phased and regional basis between August and the end of March 2020. In the meantime, they can continue to use their Healthy Start vouchers.

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