How families can claim up to £600 worth of free food with Healthy Start vouchers

family shopping
(Image credit: Getty)

Families can claim up to £600 worth of free food with Healthy Start vouchers - here's how you can claim yours.

Families will be able to benefit from up to £600 worth of free food with Healthy Start vouchers.

Both parents and mums-to-be can boost the amount of free food they receive through the Healthy Start vouchers scheme by simply shopping at Waitrose - earning themselves up to £600 worth of food a year.

The Healthy Start voucher initiative is expected to increase from £3.10 to £4.25 this month, and Waitrose has announced it will still be applying a £1.50 bonus on top of the voucher value for its shoppers to buy healthy foods such as cows milk, fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, infant formula milk, and fresh, dried or tinned pulses.

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And while the supermarket has committed to boosting the value since February 2021, two months before the increase came into play, it has confirmed it will be adding the bonus, even though the vouchers have increased - making one voucher worth a wonderful £5.75 if spent in-store.

For families who are entitled to two vouchers per week, it means they can get a total of £11.50 to spend in store - which works out at a staggering £598 a year.

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford has helped spread the word of where the Healthy Start vouchers can be spent. He tweeted, 'Healthy Start scheme - do you qualify? Go to (opens in new tab) Taskforce members, can you share a bit more info on redeeming value in-store so I can repost?' and tagged all the leading supermarkets in the UK.'

family shopping supermarket

(Image credit: Getty)

Meanwhile, for households that benefit from one voucher per week, the amount saved would be £299 over 12 months.

But Waitrose isn't the only supermarket offering families an added bonus for spending their vouchers in their stores - the Co-op has confirmed it will be continuing to offer £1 top-up of the vouchers, which it first introduced last December, making them worth £5.25 if spent in store - with families in receipt of two vouchers earning £10.50 each week or £546 a year while those with just one voucher will get £273 over 12 months.

Tesco had been offering shoppers an extra £1 (opens in new tab) voucher at the till but that offer has since stopped but Sainsbury's confirmed it is offering a £2 voucher (opens in new tab) at the till. A spokesman wrote, 'Hi Marcus, customers redeeming Healthy Start vouchers in Sainsbury’s will receive a £2 coupon to use towards fresh & frozen fruit and veg.'

The extra amount is covered by the supermarket and is applied automatically when you use the vouchers at the till.

But families who choose to shop elsewhere will get the standard Healthy Start voucher rate of £4.25 which equates to £221 over the year if you claim one each week, or £442 if you get two vouchers.

Lidl was offering families an extra bonus (opens in new tab) but has since stopped.

What makes families eligible for Healthy Start vouchers?

You have to claim certain benefits, and either be pregnant (opens in new tab) or have a child under the age of four. But if you have a child under the age of one, you could get two vouchers a week.

Benefits that will entitle you to the vouchers include:

  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (but only if you are over 10 weeks pregnant)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (this is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)

If you’re under 18 and more than 10 weeks pregnant, you qualify for Healthy Start vouchers until your baby is born regardless of whether you claim any benefits.

After your baby is born, you'll only continue to get the vouchers if you also claim the qualifying benefits listed above.