We continue to lead the way for those in need across its communities by announcing that we will give all those who use Healthy Start vouchers an extra £1 to spend on vital food and essentials.
Following on from Marcus Rashford’s call earlier this year for better support for those using the voucher scheme and the planned Government uplift in April next year, we have committed to providing all those who present the vouchers in its stores an extra £1.
This will mean that those that use the vouchers will see their allowance rise from £3.10 to £4.10 in Central England Co-op stores and, from April next year, see the total amount increase from the Government set rate of £4.25 to £5.25.
This will empower people to get more when they stock up on items including milk, fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried and tinned pulses and infant formula milk.
It is also hoped that this extra £1 will encourage more people to take up the option of requesting and using the vouchers to support them and their families.
Calum Kirk, Head of Fresh Trading at Central England Co-op, said: “We all understand the importance of children and their families having access to food and essentials and the long-term issues caused if these basic items are not available to them.
“As a Society, we have and continue to work hard to tackle the issue of food poverty and earlier this year were proud to join Marcus Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Taskforce and support its efforts to increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers.
“However, as this is such as important issue, we have decided to put in place an extra £1 for everyone who uses the vouchers in our store to take the current total they can use to purchase products to £4.10. This commitment will remain in place even when the planned uplift from the Government comes into place next April. This will then mean that people will have a total of £5.25 to spend. In some areas as many as 50% of eligible families are missing out so we will be working hard to raise awareness and increase uptake.
“Our communities sit at the heart of every decision we make and we hope this extra £1 showcases how all of us here at Central England Co-op are willing to go the extra mile to support vulnerable families in their time of need.”
To claim the extra £1, all people have to do is present their vouchers at the till point in any Central England Co-op store and the colleague will automatically add on the extra £1 on top of the vouchers supplied.
Henry Dimbleby, Independent lead, National Food Strategy, said: “Poverty resulting from the pandemic is continuing to put huge pressure on family budgets.
“That’s why I was delighted that the Government accepted my recommendation to increase the value of the Healthy Start payments. It is wonderful to see Central England Co-op making the scheme more valuable still. It is a great way to help young children and pregnant women eat more fruit and veg. A decent diet must surely be a central foundation of equality of opportunity.”
Anna Taylor OBE, Executive director, Food Foundation, said: “The pandemic is continuing to put very real pressure on families, with food poverty rising as a result.
"Part one of the National Food Strategy made three recommendations for safeguarding children’s food security and health, including a recommendation to increase in the value of the Healthy Start voucher scheme.
"So it’s wonderful to see Central England Co-op join the increasing numbers of retailers moving to add value to the scheme by directly helping their customers, and particularly great that they’ve committed to do this into 2021.We hope to see continued action from both the government and other UK retailers on the Healthy Start scheme in the months ahead."
More details about the Healthy Start Voucher scheme can be found online at https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/