Healthy Start, a Government voucher programme that provides pregnant women and children under 4 with direct access to healthy food like milk and fruit, has long deserved a boost. Ensuring that struggling families have access to nutritious food, especially when fruit and vegetables can be prohibitively expensive, should be at the heart of our food justice agenda.
That’s why boosting the value of Healthy Start vouchers from the current value of £3.10 to £4.25 was one of the three main calls of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce supported by Marcus Rashford, and today one of the retailrts from that taskforce is stepping up. East of England Co-op have announced that from today, they will plug the gap themselves and add increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers redeemed in their stores to £4.25, funding the £1.15 difference per transaction themselves.
The regional retailer, who has over 120 food stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex, plans to support this increase in value until the government takes action to increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 for all. Marcus Rashford himself said “Little steps make huge differences to so many in need. Proud to see another Task Force member take it upon themselves to cover some of the deficit felt by families across the UK.”
Co-ops have long led the way on Food Justice, and we can only hope that where East of England Co-op have led, the Government will follow.
Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “We believe that all children should have access to good food, supporting not only their nutritional and mental health but also providing them with the energy they need to learn effectively.
“Retailers, businesses and individuals, like Marcus, are stepping up and doing their bit. What we need now is government to take notice, listen and do the right thing for these children and their families.”