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Join the Healthy Start scheme to receive free healthy food

Collage of different fruit and vegetables

If you're more than ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four, you could be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk via the NHS Healthy Start Scheme.

Published: 09/05/2023

What is the healthy start scheme?

Healthy Start is a UK-wide government scheme that provides a prepaid card for eligible applicants that you can use at local shops to buy milk, infant formula, and fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. Healthy Start can also help you receive free vitamins if you're pregnant or breastfeeding and for your children if they're between six months to four years old.

Who's eligible for the scheme?

You can apply for the scheme if you're at least ten weeks pregnant, or have at least one child under four years old, and are receiving any of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less).
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition).
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment).
  • Working Tax Credit (only if your family is receiving the 4 week ‘run on’ payment).

If you're under-18 and pregnant, you'll qualify for the scheme regardless of whether you receive benefits.

If you have any questions about eligibility, the NHS website can help you learn more.

How do I apply?

To apply, you'll need to provide the following:

  • Your name and address.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your National Insurance number.
  • Your baby's due date (if you're pregnant).
  • Your benefit award letter if you're over 18.

Remember to ensure that your details are up to date with HMRC or DWP, too, as this will help speed up your application.

You can apply online or by contacting or 0300 330 7010.

You can find out more about the scheme on the Healthy Start website.

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