ROYTON mums-to-be and families on low incomes will be able to buy more nutritious food for their money, thanks to a pilot scheme from First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO), Oldham Council and food redistribution charity The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT).
Starting on July 7, eligible pregnant women and families with children under the age of four from the local area – not just FCHO customers – will be able to spend their Healthy Start vouchers at TBBT’s food service at Bethesda Church, Royton on Wednesday afternoons.
By using their £4.25 Healthy Starts vouchers, they’ll be able to buy £35 worth of food including a great mix of fresh fruit and veg for just £3.25.
Dave Brereton, Community Impact Manager at local housing association FCHO, said: “Our partnership with TBBT affordable food service already brings good quality food to our customers for a fraction of its usual price, so they don’t have to choose between buying food, paying bills or buying other essentials.
“Now by accepting the Healthy Start vouchers from FCHO customers and other members of the community who don’t live in FCHO properties, we’ll be able to help more people make their money go even further and support them to give their families the best start in life.”
FCHO and TBBT are trialling the Healthy Start scheme in Royton. If successful, it will be rolled out to the four other services in Oldham that FCHO delivers in partnership with TBBT and further afield to all TBBT’s projects across the north of England.
Uptake of Healthy Start vouchers in Oldham is among the lowest in Greatest Manchester and FCHO will be raising awareness of the scheme and supporting people to apply for the vouchers.
Dave added: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit our borough hard, so it’s more important than ever that everyone who can claim Healthy Start vouchers does.
“Yet many local families in need are missing out on them – especially in Royton where we know a high number of people qualify for Healthy Start vouchers but don’t access them.
“We’ll be supporting eligible customers to claim the vouchers and then helping them to make the most of them, so local families in greatest need can benefit.”
Mark Game, CEO of The Bread and Butter Thing, added: “TBBT is one of the only food charities nationally that now has the capacity to accept Healthy Start vouchers.
“We’re genuinely delighted that we can run this pilot scheme with FCHO to help our members make their money go even further whilst adding value to our existing scheme and supporting families to feed their children quality, nutritious food.
“A critical part of this work is also about helping people check their eligibility and sign up to Healthy Start vouchers to ensure that as many people as possible are using the scheme and accessing the benefits they’re entitled to.
“This is a really significant way for people on low incomes to improve the diets of their young families with long-lasting benefits for their futures.”
FCHO and TBBT are among the local agencies which form the Oldham Food Partnership, led by Oldham Council. Partners work together to provide Oldhamers with fair access to fresh, affordable and healthy food.
FCHO customers who would like to find out more about the Healthy Start offer should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 393 7117.
Local people who aren’t FCHO customers can contact Oldham Council on 0161 770 8172 for details of how they can access the service.
Healthy Start is an NHS scheme to reduce child poverty and health inequalities by providing weekly vouchers to buy nutritious food. It is available for low-income families with pregnant women and children up to the age of four. Visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk/ for further information.
The Bread and Butter Thing is a charity that makes life more affordable for people on a low income, builds stronger communities and reduces food waste using an innovative and self-sustaining approach to the redistribution of surplus food and non-food items. It regularly distributes over 100 tonnes of surplus food each week. Find out more: www.breadandbutterthing.org