Mothers press for better food

The welfare food scheme for pregnant women, mothers and young
children with low incomes should be more generous, include a wider
range of food and be available from a wider range of outlets, said
respondents to a government consultation on reform of the

But it was important to be clear exactly what foods would be
included, they said.

The government is proposing a major reform of the scheme as part
of the NHS Plan. The scheme was introduced as a universal provision
in 1940 but is now means-tested. A scientific review concluded that
it did not meet the wider nutritional needs of pregnant women,
nursing mothers and young children. It could act as a disincentive
to breastfeeding by offering free infant formula.

The proposed changes include replacing the vouchers for milk,
and milk powder with a voucher for “healthy” foods. The new scheme,
called Healthy Start, is expected to be introduced in 2004.

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