Southern Co-op said its stores will be topping up Healthy Start vouchers by £1 as part of its work to tackle food poverty, giving families the chance to spend an extra £100 on food.
All of the 201 convenience stores of the regional co-operative will take part in the initiative, adding £1 to the value of every Healthy Start voucher which is currently worth £4.25.
The vouchers provide additional support for families on lower incomes with children under four or pregnant women in order to access healthy foods. The vouchers can be used for fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried or tinned pulses, cow’s milk and certain infant formula.
Holly Bramble, Southern Co-op’s community and campaign co-ordinator, said: “It breaks my heart to know that 4.28 million children in the UK were living in poverty last year, according to data published by the Department for Work and Pensions.
“Poverty and food inequality are issues that we have been working with our communities to tackle through food donations, our Feed a Family Fund, and other financial support. But whilst there are children still going hungry, then more needs to be done.”
For families who claim two vouchers, this would mean they could get £10.50 per week, or £546 over the year including the top up of £104 a year. For families who get one voucher, this would add up to £273 over 12 months.
Once families have received their vouchers, they simply need to present them at the till when buying any eligible food items at a Southern Co-op store and the value will automatically be topped up to £5.25.
“We welcomed the government’s move in April to increase the value of its Healthy Start vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25. We hope our extra £1 uplift will make even more of a difference,” commented Simon Eastwood, chief operating officer for retail at Southern Co-op.