Healthy Start scheme

Healthy Start is a UK-wide statutory scheme providing a nutritional safety net to pregnant women and children under four in low-income families in receipt of certain benefits or tax credits. All pregnant women under-18 years qualify, whether or not they are in receipt of benefits. Healthy Start supports public health policies by encouraging breastfeeding and a healthy diet. DHSSPS is responsible for the legislation of Healthy Start policy in Northern Ireland.

Background

The scheme provides vouchers which can be used at local shops to buy milk and fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. Coupons that can be exchanged for free Healthy Start vitamins are also provided for pregnant women, breastfeeding women 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, where to get Healthy Start vitamins in Northern Ireland, and local retailers that accept the vouchers.

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.

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

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