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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 00:21 GMT
Poor families given fruit and veg
The government stresses that poor diet can damage health
Pregnant women and toddlers from low income families are to get free fruit and vegetables under a new scheme.

The government's Healthy Start scheme will provide parents with vouchers to buy fruit and vegetables, as well as milk and formula for babies.

The vouchers will be worth 2.80 per week and made available for pregnant women and families with children aged between one and four.

People with children under a year old will get two vouchers each week.

Vitamin supplements will also be available under the scheme, run by the Department of Health.

Children can get milk and fresh fruit and vegetables from the cradle up
Caroline Flint
Public health minister
Families can spend the vouchers at around 20,000 retailers including markets, greengrocers, milk deliverers, supermarkets and chemists.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said: "Poor diet can have a real impact on people's health.

"We want people to have the best possible opportunity to eat healthily.

"This new scheme will not only provide greater choice of healthy food, but will also mean that children can get milk and fresh fruit and vegetables from the cradle up, helping to give them the best possible start in life."

The programme will replace the Welfare Food Scheme, originally set up in World War II to protect children's health during rationing, and more than 500,000 families will transfer to the new scheme which was piloted in Devon.

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