Look into the Local Food Bank
Food banks receive surplus foods from national sources, as well as local donations from charities, church groups and individuals. Some distribute prepared boxes with a variety of foods. Others allow you to walk through the warehouse and fill a box yourself. Food banks are a good source for staples such as rice, pasta and canned goods.
Visit Your Local Farmers Market
If your neighborhood doesn’t have a supermarket, check out other options for buying fresh produce. For example, farmers markets are sprouting up in many neighborhoods. These markets provide fresh, locally grown produce that you often can purchase for a very good price.
Or, plant a simple garden. Even if you live in an apartment, you and your kids can grow your own vegetables. Plant your family’s favorite veggies in a clean clay or plastic pot, trashcan, bucket or another container and place it on a porch, balcony, windowsill or sunny spot.
Many families and friends use informal food sharing to stretch their budgets. For gardeners and farmers, it may mean exchanging crops. Or, suburbanites might split the cost of foods bought in bulk at discount grocery stores. Another option is to exchange cooked meals once or twice a week, which also saves you meal prep time a day or two a week!
Take Advantage of School Meals
Depending on your family’s income level, your child may qualify for free or reduced cost meals at school. Overall, school meal programs may provide breakfast, lunch, snacks and even dinners. Specific offerings for school meals vary by district. School meals are healthier than ever — many districts now serve lean meat, low-fat dairy, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. For children with parents who work shifts during the evening meal, after-school meal programs provide many children with a nutritious dinner. And, when school isn’t in session, the Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious meals to fill the void.
Give Your Kids a Head Start
If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit.
If you live in Scotland you cannot get Healthy Start. You can apply for Best Start Foods instead.
If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK.
You can also get coupons to swap for:
- pregnancy vitamins
- breastfeeding vitamins
- vitamins for children aged 6 months to 5 years old
What you’ll get
If you qualify, you’ll get vouchers worth £4.25 each to spend on:
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- plain frozen fruit and vegetables
- infant formula
You get 1 voucher a week if:
- you’re pregnant
- you have a child aged between 1 and 4
You get 2 vouchers a week if you have a child under 1.
You can also get free vitamin supplements.
You will qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if either:
- you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant
- you have at least 1 child under 4 years old
In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:
- Child Tax Credit (but only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit (but only if your family earns £408 or less per month from employment)
- Working Tax Credit (but only if your family is receiving the 4 week ‘run-on’ payment)
You’ll also be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you do not receive any benefits.
How to claim in England
Apply for Healthy Start vouchers by filling in the online form, printing it out, and returning it to:
Healthy Start Issuing Unit
PO Box 1067
Or you can download the form directly from the website:
You can also get an application form from your midwife or ‘health visitor’, or by phoning the Healthy Start helpline.
Healthy Start helpline
Telephone: 0345 607 6823
Find out about call charges
How to claim in Scotland
Click Here To Apply In Scotland