Iceland will become the first supermarket to collaborate with a brand to support the NHS Healthy Start scheme, which is set up to help those who are entitled to buy healthy food and milk, such as fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables.
This landmark partnership with Del Monte, one of the world’s leading vertically-integrated producers, distributors, and marketers of fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables comes at a crucial time with recent data from The Food Foundation revealing the sharp increase in the proportion of households with children experiencing food insecurity in the past month – which is now at 17.2%, up from 12.1% in January 2022.
This represents 2.6 million children aged under 18 who live in households that do not have access to a healthy and affordable diet, putting them at risk of suffering from diet-related diseases.
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.”
The NHS Healthy Start scheme helps those on a low income who are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help to buy milk, fruit and vegetables, pulses and baby formula. They can also get free Healthy Start vitamins.
These can be bought using a prepaid card, which is regularly topped up by the government so that pregnant mothers and mothers with children between the ages of one and four-years-old receive £4.25 per week, while mothers with children under the age of one receive £8.50 per week.
To help combat this and ensure that families with young children aren’t needing to sacrifice nutritional value due to cost, this trailblazing partnership between Iceland and Del Monte means shoppers can now use their NHS Healthy Start cards to buy a wide selection of Del Monte® frozen fruit products when buying in-store at Iceland or The Food Warehouse.
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.
“As a proud supporter of the scheme, we know that one of our roles is to continuously raise awareness of its offering – which is why, earlier this year, we became the first supermarket to add the NHS Healthy Start messaging to 81 million of our milk bottles across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, enabling us to reach millions of homes with the details of the scheme.
“Now, we are the first again to partner with a brand in supporting NHS Healthy Start. 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.”
Minister for Public Health at the Department of Health and Social Care, Maggie Throup, said: “A healthy diet is crucial to the development of babies and children and I want to ensure pregnant mothers and families with young children are able to access nutritious food.
“The NHS Healthy Start scheme offers financial support to help parents with low incomes to buy healthy foods such as milk, fruit and vegetables, pulses and baby formula – as well as free vitamins.
“It’s fantastic Iceland is once again helping to promote this important scheme – this time on its packs of Del Monte frozen fruit which is another innovative way of reminding parents to take part.”
Most varieties of Iceland’s Del Monte frozen fruit bags are available under the scheme, of which there are currently over two dozen ranging from Del Monte Blackberries (£2.50, 300g) and Del Monte Mango Chunks (£2.50, 500g) to Del Monte Lemon Slices (£2.50, 350g) and Del Monte Strawberry and Banana Smoothie Mix (£2.50, 500g).
There are also a number of exciting new Del Monte products soon to hit Iceland shelves that are also available to those using Healthy Start, including Del Monte Peach Slices (£2.50, 500g), Del Monte Summer Fruit Salad (£2.50, 500g) and Del Monte Black Forest Fruits (£2.50, 500g).
Iceland also offers a 2 for £4.00 deal on all of the above, meaning that shoppers only need to spend one of their weekly top-ups in order to come away with two large bags of frozen fruit that can be taken out from the freezer when needed, with the rest put back for another day – making the offer even more cost effective.
All products will shortly be available in a new packaging design. This packaging refresh signposts other products in the scheme to help shoppers locate these items more easily and maximise use of their NHS Healthy Start vouchers.
Martin Tilney, Senior Commercial Director at Del Monte, said: “Fresh Del Monte has a century-long commitment to fresh fruit with no compromise on quality. We are proud to be the first brand available on the Healthy Start Scheme, helping families get the nutrients they need and driving more take-up at such a critical time.”
The NHS Healthy Start scheme is now digital, with NHS Healthy Start cards that are automatically topped up every four weeks with payments.
For shoppers, this change means a quicker decision can be made on their application, there is no waiting for vouchers to arrive in the post and any money they do not spend will remain on their card and can be put towards healthy food and milk in the future – which is unlike the paper voucher scheme where shoppers needed to spend £4.25 or over in one transaction.
For more information on NHS Healthy Start scheme, visit: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/.