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The NHS Healthy Start scheme 

The NHS Healthy Start scheme helps young families on low incomes to buy healthy food and milk. 

You could be eligible for NHS Healthy Start if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have children under four and receive certain benefits. 

Once on the scheme, you’ll receive a prepaid card, which you can use to buy fruit, vegetables, pulses, milk and infant formula. 

Watch the videos or read on below for more information on the scheme, who is eligible, and how to apply. The information is also available in an easy-read guide to NHS Healthy Start.

Who can apply and how

Anyone aged under 18 and pregnant can apply.

People over 18 must be:

  • At least 10 weeks pregnant
  • Or have at least one child under 4
  • And getting one of these benefits:
    • Child Tax Credit (if your family income is £16,190 or less)
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Pension credit (with the child addition)
    • Universal Credit (if you family’s take-home page is £408 or less a month)
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and over 10 weeks pregnant
    • You or your partner get Working Tax Credit run-on only

Applying online should only take about 5 minutes. You only need your National Insurance number and your due date, or children’s details and date of birth.

Once you receive your prepaid card in the post, you need to activate it by calling 0300 330 2090 and create a pin.

What you can buy

With NHS Healthy Start, you can buy:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Infant formula milk
  • Fresh, dried and tinned pulses (lentils, chickpeas etc)

You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins


When you’ve been accepted to the scheme, you will get:

  • £4.25 each week of pregnancy (from week 10 onward)
  • £8.50 each week from birth to one year old
  • £4.25 each week for children between one and four years old.

The card will be topped up with payments every four weeks, and you can use it in most places that sell healthy food and accept Mastercard® payments. 

Find out if you’re eligible for NHS Healthy Start and apply online now at