A fruit and veg voucher scheme is being expanded to Southwark, south London as charities step up efforts to tackle childhood obesity and support disadvantaged families.
Working with local children’s centres, the project will provide up to 250 families in the borough with vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh produce over the next two years.
Alexandra Rose Charity, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, is launching the ‘Rose Vouchers for Fruit and Veg’ initiative at East Street Market.
Along with other organisations, Alexandra Rose is involved in activities to tackle childhood obesity in Faraday Ward where the market is located.
The Rose Vouchers for Fruit and Veg initiative was first piloted in 2014 and has since expanded to four London boroughs, as well as Barnsley and Liverpool.
The programme’s neighbourhood projects layer multiple interventions in a small targeted area, with each initiative measured for its effectiveness.
Jonathan Pauling, chief executive of Alexandra Rose Charity, said: “We believe that everyone should have access to affordable and healthy food in their local area.
“We know that the scheme is hugely successful at getting families with young children to eat more fruit and veg and we have seen the improvements in health and wellbeing that the project achieves.
“What is most exciting about this project is to see how, when delivered in tandem with a range of other initiatives, we can play a crucial part in shifting the dial on childhood obesity.”
Faraday Ward has been targeted because it has the highest level of childhood obesity across Southwark and Lambeth, as well as some of the worst deprivation.
There is a close correlation between levels of poverty in England and obesity – three in 10 children that live in the most deprived areas are obese compared to only one in 10 in other areas.
A single mother living in Faraday, who is participating on the scheme, said: “I have a son who is four years old and a baby daughter. I cannot work and have not got stable accommodation.
“Feeding my children has been difficult, but now I have the help of the Rose Vouchers, I get £9 weekly to buy fruits and vegetables. I have not felt this happy and relieved for a long time.”
The Rose Voucher scheme in Southwark is being funded as part of a wider programme by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, bringing together activities to tackle childhood obesity across Southwark and Lambeth.
As well as helping families to afford healthy food, the project will support local street markets such as East Street Market, which is over 100 years old.
Up to £80,000 worth of Rose Vouchers will pass through traders’ hands over the next two years, helping to maintain the market for the community.
The charity said the voucher scheme had already supported over 800 families in other parts of the England, having a considerable impact on people’s diets and boosting local healthy food economies.