International fruit and vegetable producer Fresh Del Monte and British supermarket Iceland have teamed up with the NHS to promote its Healthy Start scheme and help low-income families access healthier food.
Through the partnership, families will be able to purchase a variety of Del Monte frozen fruit sold at Iceland and its sub-brand The Food Warehouse using Healthy Start digital vouchers.
The voucher scheme, which the NHS introduced in the latter half of 2021, helps low-income parents across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland who have a child under the age of four and women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant.
Families can use a prepaid card, which the Government tops up regularly, to purchase milk, fruit and vegetables, pulses, and baby formula. They can also get Healthy Start vitamins at no extra cost.
Pregnant mothers and families with children between one and four receive £4.25 per week per child, while families with children under the age of one can access £8.50 a week, if eligible.
Most of Del Monte’s frozen fruit bags will be available through the scheme, including Del Monte Blackberries, Mango Chunks, Lemon Slices and the Strawberry and Banana Smoothie Mix.
Several new products from the brand will also soon be on offer, including Del Monte Peach Slices, the Summer Fruit Salad, and Black Forest Fruits.
Iceland and Del Monte claim to be the first supermarket and brand in the country to support the initiative.
All the Del Monte products included in the deal cost £2.50 per pack and will fall under Iceland’s ‘2 for £4’ deal, which the supermarket says allows customers to be more cost effective with their vouchers.
Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland, said: “Data from the NHS Business Services Authority reveals that full take up of the NHS Healthy Start scheme would lead to tens of millions of pounds worth of additional benefit being administered each year to around 130,000 families in need.
“It’s so important that this takes place, when the difference could mean an extra £442 a year towards essentials like food, baby formula and vitamins.
“We hope that, in broadening the options for low-income families so they can buy the brands they know and love, even more will come forward to claim their financial support during this hard time.”
This move is the latest from Iceland aimed at helping customers afford groceries. Last month, the supermarket introduced the Food Club Card, enabling customers to access short-term micro loans of between £25 and £100.
According to data from the Food Foundation, approximately 17.2% of families faced food insecurity in April 2022, equalling to approximately 2.6 million children living in households who cannot access healthy and affordable foods.
Zoe McIntyre, Children’s Right2Food Lead at The Food Foundation, said: “As the UK prepares for one of the most expensive winters we’ve had to date, it’s more important than ever to be making every effort to increase uptake and awareness of NHS Healthy Start for low-income young families.
“Iceland is doing a fantastic job and we look forward to seeing the results from this campaign.”
As food poverty continues to worsen, is there still a connection between food and social class? Find out in this Food Matters Live Podcast episode: