nutrition low-income families

Leeds families are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the free Healthy Start scheme, providing weekly payments for nutritious foods to pregnant women and young children in need. With only 68% of eligible families currently enrolled in the program, the Leeds City Council urges more families to utilize this vital support for healthier and more affordable food options.

Who is eligible for the Healthy Start scheme in Leeds, and what are its benefits?

Eligible individuals for the Healthy Start scheme in Leeds must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and meet certain income criteria or receive benefits. Benefits include weekly payments for nutritious foods and can be spent at local participating traders. For more information, visit

Healthy Start in Leeds: A Closer Look

Leeds, a city where 24.6% of children are living in low-income families as of the 2020/21 data, harbors a significant concern for child nutrition and well-being. The Healthy Start scheme, a national food welfare program, is designed to bolster the diets of pregnant women and young children in these families. The scheme is particularly inclusive, extending its benefits to all pregnant women under the age of 18, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Despite the critical support it offers, take-up rates are falling short. Leeds City Council has highlighted that out of over 8,000 families eligible for assistance within the city, only 68% are currently enrolled in the program. With the cost-of-living crisis exacerbating the need for such initiatives, the Council is actively encouraging those who qualify to embrace the scheme’s offerings.

Beneficiaries of Healthy Start receive monthly payments that can be spent on an assortment of nutritious food items. The options range from fresh to canned fruits and vegetables, various pulses, and cow’s milk or infant formula. The intent is clear: to make healthier food choices more accessible and affordable for those who need it most.

Eligibility and Benefits of Healthy Start

The criteria for eligibility are clear and designed to encompass a wide range of low-income families and pregnant women. To qualify for Healthy Start, applicants must be at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (with a family income of £16,190 or less per year)
  • Universal Credit (with a family take-home pay of £408 or less per month)
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)

Young pregnant women under 18 years are automatically eligible, irrespective of the above benefits.

The scheme offers distinct financial benefits throughout the stages of early parenthood. From the 10th week of pregnancy, eligible parties receive £4.25 each week, which increases to £8.50 for children from birth to one year old and then reverts to £4.25 weekly for children aged one to four. The provision’s implementation is through a prepaid card that is accepted in numerous outlets across the city, allowing for flexible use.

Supporting Traders and Council Incentives

Several traders within Kirkgate Market are champions of the Healthy Start scheme, providing a convenient location to redeem the benefits. These include Greenzone, Neils Quality Greengrocers, The Nut Shop, Tony Banks fresh fruit and veg, and Whitakers Eggs and Cheese. By participating, these businesses not only support the health of the community but also encourage the local economy’s vitality.

Council members have been vocal about the significance of the program. Councillor Salma Arif, the executive member for adult social care, public health, and active lifestyles, remarked, “The Healthy Start scheme is there to help families increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat, and give their children a great start in life.” This statement underscores the council’s commitment to nurturing healthy future generations.

Echoing the sentiment, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture, and education, expressed delight that Kirkgate Market traders are involved, emphasizing the city’s dedication to ensuring all children receive the start in life they deserve. It’s a clear call to action for eligible families to take advantage of the scheme.

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of public health, considers the scheme a vital component for creating optimal conditions for children’s growth and development. It serves as a nutritional safety net, giving families the means to acquire more milk, fruits, vegetables, and essential vitamins.

To apply for the Healthy Start scheme, eligible individuals can visit, email, or call 0300 330 7010. For those needing assistance with the application process, Digital Health Hubs – 100% Digital Leeds at provides support. Additionally, becoming a Healthy Start Champion and promoting the scheme locally can be achieved by accessing resources at NHS Healthy Start communications toolkit.

The article ends with a call to action for potential applicants and community supporters to engage with the Healthy Start scheme, an initiative that could significantly impact the health and development of children and families in Leeds.

By george