Social Justice

Families will be given 'fruit and veg prescriptions' to tackle chronic disease and food poverty

The project will see vouchers given out to be redeemed at local shops and markets in two London boroughs

fruit and veg prescriptions

The trial is aiming to help over 100 people within a year. Image: Unsplash

A charity in London has launched a “fruit and veg prescription” service to try and tackle food poverty and chronic disease.

Vouchers totalling £8 per week plus £2 for extra household members will be given out which can be spent on fruit and veg at local shops and markets.

Launched by Alexandra Rose Charity and funded by local authorities, the £250,000 pilot will take place in Lambeth and Tower Hamlets, which has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country.

Jonathan Pauling, chief executive at Alexandra Rose Charity, said: “The cost of living crisis is worsening and exacerbating rising levels of diet-related ill health and food insecurity.

“When calories from unhealthy food are three times cheaper than healthy alternatives, it makes sense that people will prioritise being full rather than being healthy, but this only stores up problems for the future.”

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The vouchers will be given to 122 residents over the course of a year, targeting those struggling financially and at risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, or mental health conditions.

Almost one in 10 children are living in food poverty – with over half of households on universal credit experiencing it.

Statistics from January 2021 showed 17 per cent of adults in Tower Hamlets struggled to have enough food, along with 15 per cent in Lambeth.

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“Diet-related ill health is costing the NHS billions every year, but more importantly, it is limiting the life chances of people on low incomes,” Pauling added.

“We hope that the Fruit & Veg on Prescription Project will make a healthy diet easier to access for people who are struggling.”

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