A voucher project that helps low-income families make healthy choices has launched in Barnsley, becoming the first scheme of its kind outside of London.
Following a successful bid to the Alexandra Rose Charity, the scheme will give coupons to low-income families so they can buy fresh fruit and vegetables at May Day Green temporary market, pumping nearly £30,000 into the local economy and helping with the economic regeneration of the town centre.
The Rose Vouchers for Fruit and Veg project will also assist existing services provided by family centres, such as cooking on a budget, healthy lunchbox schemes and cook-and-eat sessions.
The charity developed the pilot scheme in partnership with Food Matters, a national not-for-profit food policy and advocacy organisation, to allow low-income families to afford fresh fruit and vegetables and support local markets.
The pilot scheme, which is being funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Alexandra Rose Charity, will involve between 80 and 120 families served by the Central Area Family Centres. It is the first Rose Voucher project to take place outside of London and will run for 12 months.
Jonathan Pauling, chief executive, Alexandra Rose Charity, said: “We were hugely impressed by the passion and enthusiasm that went into Barnsley’s bid to be the first location outside of London for the Rose Voucher scheme. Barnsley Market is a fantastic local asset for promoting access to healthy food and we are looking forward to working with local partners to make the project a success over the coming months."
According to Alexandra Rose Charity, almost one in three primary school-aged children in England are either overweight or obese.
Councillor Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for people (achieving potential) added: “This will have a really positive impact in Barnsley. The vouchers will support families to adopt healthier lifestyles in the crucial years before school starts and the additional support from family centres such as cooking classes will also help them develop the skills and confidence to provide their families with the healthiest start.”
The scheme already runs in the London boroughs of Hackney, Greenwich and Lambeth.