Healthy Start scheme

The Healthy Start scheme provides a prepaid card for eligible applicants which can be used at local shops to buy plain liquid cow’s milk, infant formula milk based on cow’s milk, and fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. Free Healthy Start vitamins can also be provided for those who are pregnant, who are breastfeeding, and children aged from six months to four years. The scheme currently supports around 13,500 households in Northern Ireland.

The Healthy Start website includes information on how to apply.


Healthy Start is a UK-wide scheme providing a nutritional safety net to those who are pregnant and children under four in low-income families in receipt of qualifying benefits. All those who are pregnant and under-18 years of age qualify, whether or not they are in receipt of benefits.

Healthy Start supports public health policies by encouraging breastfeeding and a healthy diet.

DoH is responsible for the legislation of Healthy Start policy in Northern Ireland. The National Health Service Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) are responsible for the administration of the scheme in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  The Business Services Organisation (BSO) are responsible for the distribution of vitamins to those within NI who are eligible under the scheme.

For more information about how we process your data if you apply to the Health Start Scheme, please see the Privacy Notice below.

Day Care Food Scheme

Under the 'Day Care Food Scheme' all children under five who are in an approved day care setting for at least two hours per day are provided one third of a pint of milk free each day.

DoH is responsible for the legislation governing the Day Care Food Scheme in Northern Ireland. The Business Services Organisation (BSO) administrates the scheme on the department's behalf.


Privacy Notice

Healthy Start Scheme - Privacy Notice 

Healthy Start Promotion

NHSBSA have produced a diverse portfolio of Healthy Start communication materials for use by professionals and organisations, in wide range of languages, which can be used to promote the scheme in statutory and community settings.  These are available at NHS Business Services News (

NI specific versions of some of these are available below. 

This material includes graphic images for use on digital platforms.

Any use of the Healthy Start material below (or that on the NHSBSA site) must adhere to NHSBSA brand guidelines.

Healthy Start Leaflet – Northern Ireland
PDF (507 KB)

You could get help to buy food and milk poster – Northern Ireland PDF (462 KB)

Applying online (social media graphic) – Northern Ireland

Benefits of digital scheme (social media graphic) – Northern Ireland

Eligibility Criteria (social media graphic) – Northern Ireland

Check if you’re eligible (social media graphic) – Northern Ireland

Healthy Start: Digital Screen (Get help to buy food and milk) – Northern Ireland

Healthy Start: Digital Screen (eligibility) – Northern Ireland

Healthy Start: Digital Screen (vitamins) – Northern Ireland

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