Over the last month we have been working with a coalition of civil society organisations and charities led by the Food Foundation, Marcus Rashford and his Child Food Poverty Task Force, to advocate for the Government to commit to three key recommendations in the National Food Strategy and tackle the growing issue of food insecurity amongst families.
- Expand eligibility for the Free School Meal scheme to include every child (up to the age of 16) from a household where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.
- Extend the Holiday Activity and Food Programme to all areas in England, so that summer holiday support is available to all children in receipt of free school meal
- Increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week, and expand the scheme to every pregnant woman and to all households with children under four where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.
Together these policies would improve the lives of more than 2 million additional disadvantaged children and their families.
Our focus has been on supporting the recommendation for the Healthy Start voucher value to increase to £4.25 per week (this hasn’t been reviewed in over a decade) and for eligibility for the scheme to be expanded. If this was implemented an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of 4 would benefit, taking the total number of beneficiaries to 540,000.
We know access to affordable healthy food and being able to provide for your children has never been more important or more under threat, than during this incredibly difficult year. We have been speaking with families around the UK who access the Rose Vouchers and either currently receive, or have applied for, the Healthy Start vouchers, to support them to share their experiences. Below are some of their stories.
At Alexandra Rose our vision is for everyone to have access to healthy and affordable food. The three changes recommended in the National Food Strategy Part One will go a long way to enabling this. We urge the Government to implement these recommendations to support children and families at this incredibly challenging time.
To sign the petition and support the campaign to end child food poverty please follow this link: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554276
“Without the Healthy Start vouchers we would be in a dilemma with what we can buy, we have to balance every decision. It’s painful to see your child crying when you know you can’t buy them the food they need.”Zeid, Father of three, Liverpool
“Without the help from vouchers I have to take a list when I go shopping. I put a few things on it that we need, like lettuce, broccoli and carrots, and I buy just those things. It means we don’t have options, and meals are the same. My children like so many different fruits and vegetables I want to be able to buy these for them. They are happy if they can have variety.”Carolina, Mother of three, London
“We felt a big effect from the Coronavirus and lockdown, everything changed completely, and it was harder to get what we needed. Food is more expensive now, everything seems to have gone up in price so it would really helpful if the vouchers went up too, so we can keep using them for what we need.”Bushra, Mother of three, Liverpool
“I have always worked and so wasn’t eligible for the vouchers, but then my situation unfortunately changed as I was on a fixed contract and it came to an end. That was especially hard as my children have always loved fruit and veg, and whilst I was working they got accustomed to having the fruit and veg they wanted. Suddenly I was needing to weigh up every decision about what I could buy and spread the cost of everything.”Ganiat, Mother of three, London
[PHOTO: logos of charities and organisations supporting the campaign to end child food poverty]