Pregnant women and toddlers from low income families will be eligible to receive free fruit and vegetables under a government scheme starting this week.
Pregnant women and toddlers from low income families will be eligible to receive free fruit and vegetables under a government scheme starting this week (27 November 2006). The Healthy Start program replaces the Welfare Food Scheme, set up during WW2 to protect the health of children during rationing. Under the new scheme families on low income with children aged between one and 4 years will be eligible for vouchers worth £2.80 each week. All pregnant women under 18 years are eligible. Those with children under a year old will receive 2 vouchers a week. The vouchers can also be used for cow's milk and formula foods, as well as for vitamin supplements.
These are welcome changes in the government's schemes to improve children's diets and the embarrassments of poor parents to afford a variety of recommended fresh foods. Eaten raw, some may save costs of cooking and fuel. Queries over what may be defined as fruit and veg will copy stipulations for the Five (or more)-a-Day scheme, over which there has been some debate concerning potatoes, beans and nuts; and it may take some more negotiating for extension to non-dairy milks and derivatives. The scheme will not be very warmly received by British farmers, whose opportunities for growing appropriate fruit (eg bananas, citrus and apples) are limited. Nonetheless, prospects for beneficial choices and Salad Days for salutary purchases by a disgracefully large population of disadvantaged young people, reinforced by the current spate of educational programs and exhortations, bid fair for the future if the money is well spent.