Healthy Start is a government scheme which provides pregnant women and parents/carers of children up to 4 years on a low-income access to free fruit, vegetables, pulses, milk and vitamins.

From April 2022, the scheme is changing – the Healthy Start paper vouchers will be replaced with a pre-paid card. Instead of receiving paper vouchers in the post every month, beneficiaries will have a pre-paid card which is topped up once a month with their Healthy Start item allowance and will be available to use in any shops/markets/food outlets accepting Mastercard. Anyone applying from now will receive and be able to start using the pre-paid card.

Benefits of the card for retailers:

· Will no longer be required to register to accept Healthy Start vouchers or be part of the Healthy Start scheme

· Will no longer need to request reimbursement from the Healthy Start Reimbursement Unit (retailers who are already registered to the scheme should continue to collect and redeem valid Healthy Start vouchers until their expiry date)

· A retailer is also not required to check a beneficiary’s purchases. The card does not restrict types of purchases in store and the responsibility for buying the right items is fully on the cardholder

If a beneficiary is unsure of their card balance/does not have enough pre-paid credit to purchase items, they can be advised to check the balance on their card at an ATM or by calling 0300 330 7010 (call charges may apply)

To download the full guide for retailers, please visit: