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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 18:23 GMT
Free fruit offered to low earners
Healthy lunchbox
The scheme is expected to be extended to England, Wales and Scotland early next year
Parents of young children in Devon and Cornwall are going to be the first in the country to benefit from a new free fruit and vegetables scheme.

Those eligible for Healthy Start, including all pregnant girls aged under 18, will receive vouchers to buy milk, fruit or vegetables in local shops.

Parents on low incomes will receive vouchers worth at least 5.60 a week if their baby is less than one year old.

They will get at least 2.80 a week for older children up to the age of five.

'Greater choice'

The Healthy Start initiative will replace the more limited Welfare Food Scheme, first introduced to tackle food shortages during World War II.

Launching the new programme, Health Minister Melanie Johnson said: "Poor nutrition in pregnancy and early years can have a significant impact on health in later childhood.

"Our aim in revising this scheme is to make it the kind of scheme that pregnant women and families participating in it want it to be.

"This means it has to offer people much greater choice and flexibility, and support them to make healthy lifestyle choices whilst respecting their rights to make decisions."

Sally Hayes, a senior health promotion officer in Cornwall, said: "We are trying to encourage people to eat a balanced and varied diet and to make their own decisions about food and that is what this scheme is trying to do."

The consultation period runs until 26 April and is expected to be extended to England, Wales and Scotland early next year.


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Medical News Today Free fruit and vegetables for more children, UK - 44 hrs ago
Devon Herald Express Fruit is free in healthy option - 45 hrs ago
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