Marcus Rashford has written an open letter in the BMJ, asking healthcare workers to encourage parents in their communities to sign up to the Healthy Start scheme.
In his open letter, Rashford outlines his mission to encourage the 40% of families, who are eligible for Healthy Start but not registered, to join scheme. Since last autumn, the Child Food Poverty Taskforce – which School Food Matters actively supports – has been promoting the Healthy Start scheme, resulting in thousands more families benefitting. Now, the England and Man United forward is asking healthcare professionals to bring the scheme to the attention of parents in their communities.
The government’s Healthy Start scheme aims to reduce health inequalities by providing vitamins, dietary advice and £4.25 in vouchers per week for milk, infant formula, and vegetables to low-income families with pregnant women or children up to four years old. Parents can find out if they’re eligible using this simple eligibility calculator.
Not only does uptake of the scheme need a boost, the age limit needs to be increased so that children receive the benefit right up until they start school. This is one of the recommendations within the National Food Strategy aimed at ensuring there is no nutrition gap for children before they receive their free school meal in Reception.
And it was great to read Marcus’ gratitude to all the heroic healthcare workers for their relentless work during the pandemic.
We believe that school food should be a consistent and non-partisan priority for government. We use our real-world experience of working in schools to strengthen our campaigns on children’s health, access to nutritious school meals and food education.