The new Healthy Start initiative from the Department of Health, replaces the old Welfare Food scheme. Through the scheme qualifying families and pregnant women are provided with vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh fruit and vegetables as well as milk and infant formula, plus free vitamin supplements. It also provides the opportunity to access quality information and advice about healthy family diet and breastfeeding, as well as broader health issues.
The Department of Health has identified that there may be specific health issues associated with diet amongst these communities, including a potential increase in rickets that is related to Vitamin D deficiency. Part of the campaign’s objective is to educate communities about the need for a healthy diet and the vitamins that are featured in key fruits and vegetables that can help prevent deficiencies in young children.
Launched in east London, the conferences aim to educate these communities about the initiative and are taking place across the UK including the North West, Midlands, South East and West London.
Minister of State for Public Health, Caroline Flint commented on the conferences: “Since the launch last year, Healthy Start has been taken up positively by health professionals as a tool to promote key health messages and to encourage healthier lifestyles for young families. Fruit and vegetables play a very important part in our diet and the new initiative now allows vouchers to be used for fruit and vegetables as well as milk and vitamins. Through the regional conferences we want to establish stronger links and communication routes between the harder to reach communities and regional health professionals, thus allowing us to take the messages of Healthy Start into those communities and ensure that everyone who is eligible for Healthy Start is making the most of the scheme.”
Consultant nutritionist, registered dietician and best-selling author, Azmina Govindji, helped promote healthy eating messages and carried out a number of cooking demonstrations, showing how to effectively use one weeks allowance of Healthy Start vouchers to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into traditional meals:
“I took a £5.60 allowance, which is what a pregnant mother with a child under four would receive weekly. I then demonstrated how to combine fruit and vegetables purchased with the Healthy Start vouchers with common products from your household larder, to create traditional, fun and healthy meals for all the family.”
Supported by east London PCTs, the conference provided Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Somali project managers and community group leaders with information and tools on Healthy Start.
Other Healthy Start conferences taking place through June and July are:
– North West – 27th June at Carlisle Business Centre, Bradford
– South East – 3rd July at Riverside Conference Centre, Luton
– West London – 18th July at Ealing Town Hall, Ealing
– Midlands – 26th July at Birmingham & Midlands Institute, Birmingham
To book a place at any of the above conferences, please contact the Media Moguls team on 020 8902 5575.