Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

Using Healthy Start

Where can I use my paper Healthy Start food vouchers?

You can only use paper vouchers in any of the registered retailers. If you have a Healthy Start pre-paid debit card you can use this in any retailer that sells Healthy Start foods. Look out for the Healthy Start sticker in the window or ask inside.

I’m taking part in the new Healthy Start scheme and have a pre-paid debit card, will I also receive £4.25?

Yes, you will also receive the increased amount of £4.25. The increased payments will start at the same time as the paper vouchers are distributed.  

I do not want to buy milk, fruit or vegetables – can I spend my vouchers on something else for me or my baby?

If you don’t want to buy cow’s milk, fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, you could use your Healthy Start food vouchers to buy infant formula or fresh, dried or tinned pulses. Healthy Start vouchers can only be used to buy:

  • milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk

Many shops have a big range, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Can I buy follow on formula with my vouchers?

Healthy Start vouchers cannot be used to buy follow on formula. However, you can use your vouchers to buy infant formula labelled ‘suitable from birth’. Infant formula can be given to babies up to 12 months old. After 12 months, they can have cow’s milk, which you can also buy with your Healthy Start vouchers.

My local shop, supermarket, or pharmacist will not take my Healthy Start food or vitamin vouchers, what should I do?

Some retailers or pharmacists are not registered to accept paper Healthy Start food or vitamin vouchers. There is no electronic version of Healthy Start food or vitamin vouchers, however we are working towards offering a pre-paid card in place of the current paper vouchers. More information regarding the pre-paid card will be released later in 2021.

Find where you can collect Healthy Start vitamins in your area on the NHS website (

If you continue to have a problem using your paper Healthy Start food vouchers, contact us by calling our helpline on 0345 607 6823.

Find out about call charges.

Can I use my Healthy Start vouchers for online shopping?

No. Healthy Start vouchers must be used in shops registered with Healthy Start scheme – they cannot be processed online.

Over 21,000 retail outlets are registered across the UK, including many independent local shops and pharmacies.

View which retailers accept Healthy Start vouchers (Excel: 335KB)

Alert: Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

If you are receiving HMRC Child Tax Credits and you have an invitation letter from the NHS, you can apply for the new service here.