This year, British Nutrition Foundation's (BNF) Healthy Eating week takes place 14-18 June. It's a week to celebrate healthy living and an opportunity to reflect on your families' lifestyles.
Good nutrition is absolutely central for improving our wellbeing and mental health but accessing affordable and nutritious food can be a real challenge for some families. To support Tower Hamlets residents, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group's Child Healthy Weight Team is encouraging families and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and have a low-income to join the Healthy Start Scheme. The scheme gives families simple and affordable recipes, age-appropriate food portion control, and more advice on how to access healthy food and increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables you eat.
Child Healthy Weight Team Leader, Amelie Gonguet said: "The Healthy Start Scheme is means-tested and acts as a basic nutritional safety net for families. At a time when child poverty is rising, over £135,000 of funding per annum is lost in Tower Hamlets to unclaimed Healthy Start entitlement. We encourage all eligible families to sign up for this fantastic scheme."
Below you will find more information about the Healthy Start Scheme to see if it's right for you.
Who is eligible for the scheme?
Women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and families with children under four years who are in receipt of certain income support and benefits. The scheme is universal for all pregnant women under 18 years old.
To apply, visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk or phone their helpline on 0345 607 6823. You can also visit your children's centre, GP surgery, or speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor. The application no longer requires a Healthcare professional signature!
Important: The scheme is switching from voucher delivery to a pre-paid card system. All users will need to reapply to the digital scheme in October 2021, using the digital application.
Parents could be entitled to:
- £8.50 per week for each baby under the age of 1
- £4.25 per week for each child aged between 1 and 3
- Plus £4.25 per week if you are pregnant (from week 10)
Parents can also get free vitamins, specifically designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children.
What you can buy:
- Milk-whole, semi-skimmed, or skimmed. It can be pasteurised, sterilised, long life, or UHT.
- Plain, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients), whole or chopped, packaged, tinned, or loose.
- Dried and fresh pulses – lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.
- First Infant formula milk (suitable from birth) that is cow's milk-based.
The vouchers can be used at most supermarkets, and at some small shops, market stalls, farmers' markets, and community food projects. This could represent:
The Charity First Steps Nutrition has created a recipe book with simple ideas for cost-effective recipes for the whole family, using ingredients that can be purchased using the Healthy Start voucher. Download it here.
The recipes also show appropriate portion sizes for infants, children aged 1-4 years, children aged 5-11 years, and older children and adults.
Using age-appropriate bowls and plates (please see the image below) can help parents to have a realistic guide of how much their children should be eating. This also helps to avoid food waste and battles at mealtimes.
The British Nutrition Foundation has also made a poster called 'perfect portions for little tums' to support families offering age-appropriate portion sizes for children aged 1-4.
It is important to remember those are just estimates and children will have different sized appetites depending on how active they are, and how much they are growing. What is most important, is for parents to be sensitive to children's hunger and satiety cues.