18 Apr Rose Vouchers – supporting local markets
The Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Project helps parents with young children on low incomes, buy fresh fruit and vegetables from local markets, to give them a healthy start in life…..could your market benefit?
Rose Vouchers are worth £3 per child every week (double if the child is under one year of age). Vouchers can only be redeemed at markets
that sell fresh fruit and vegetables. This means that the project not only helps young families but also supports local markets – maintaining their position as sources of healthy low-cost food in areas that often suffer from poor food access.
By locating the Rose Voucher registration and distribution at children’s centres the scheme also supports participants’ engagement with existing activities focused on health and wellbeing.
Why do it?
Evidence suggests that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life from conception to age two are the most important in setting their future life chances. In England almost one in three primary-aged children are either overweight or obese. A lot of focus has been put on the food that children eat in school, but by the time they reach primary school age it is often too late. By then one in 10 are already obese and many more have lifestyles that will see obesity develop before they leave primary school.
At the same time food bank use has skyrocketed. The Trussell Trust saw a 19 per cent increase in foodbank use in 2014 with enough emergency food given out to support nearly 1.1 million people.
“Food poverty means worse diet, worse access, worse health… Above all food poverty is about less or almost no consumption of fruit and vegetables.”
Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at London’s City University
How it works
Eligibility for Rose Vouchers is based on assessments undertaken by the children’s centres. Families have to be receiving, or be eligible for, the Healthy Start voucher scheme for pregnant women and families in receipt of benefits. The children’s centre staff recruit those families which most stand to benefit because of their susceptibility to food poverty, dietary related health issues or other risk factors. Rose Vouchers provide a cash equivalent that can only be spent on fresh fruit and vegetables at participating retailers including street markets, fruit and veg stalls and veg box schemes.
The project is being delivered in the London boroughs of Hackney and Greenwich, and Lambeth as part of that borough’s status as a Food Flagship. These boroughs have been chosen because there are significant gaps in the life expectancy of individuals according to how rich or poor they are. These communities also have some of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the country.
The families collect their Rose Vouchers at their local children’s centre. This encourages them to use other health and wellbeing activities that are on offer, such as breastfeeding support, weaning workshops and play groups. There are also cook and taste sessions, to develop skills and confidence around food and cooking.
Utilising existing local resources, the Rose Vouchers project is an asset- based approach that develops local partnerships to provide the range of support needed to help families lead healthier lives.
Evaluation of the project to date has shown an increase in the amount and variety of fruit and vegetables consumed by participating families, both children and adults. It has helped support positive behaviour change, resulting in increased numbers of meals being cooked from scratch and a decrease in the number of ready meals purchased. Families are also spending more on fruit and vegetables as a percentage of their budgets, as well as the following:
Building skills & confidence: Families are improving their diet because of the skills and confidence to cook from scratch which they gain from cook and taste sessions.
Benefits to the local economy: Traders report increased takings, as people spend more money in the market in addition to using their Rose Vouchers.
Health and wellbeing: Families talk about feeling healthier and happier as a result of the project. They sometimes identify specific health benefits.
Food Poverty: Participants say the extra spending power makes them feel more relaxed about allowing free access to food at home and more confident about experimenting with new foods.
The Children’s Centres: The Rose Voucher project has increased the number of vulnerable families receiving Healthy Start and changed the perception of the support offered by Children’s Centres.
“The Rose Voucher project is one of the best things that’s happened at this Children’s Centre”
Family Engagement Worker
How to get involved
The Rose Vouchers project is a proven way to support an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption by families on low incomes. Its strengths lie in its ability to use existing community assets to deliver an innovative approach to tackling food poverty and promoting healthy eating. Rose Vouchers help children’s centre staff engage some of the most hard to reach families, increase sign-up to the national Healthy Start programme and target services to those who need it most. It also supports the vibrancy of local markets and food access initiatives contributing to their ongoing viability.
Alexandra Rose Charity wants to expand this project and is keen to hear from potential partners who would like to bring Rose Vouchers to their local community. Alexandra Rose is particularly keen to work with public health bodies, local markets, food access projects and other voluntary and private sector partners to help give families the best possible start in life.
If you think the project could work on your market or you market business, please get in touch with them.
Follow them on Twitter: @AlexRoseCharity
About the charity
The Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg is an Alexandra Rose Charity project designed and delivered in partnership with Food Matters.
Alexandra Rose Charity has been supporting vulnerable members of society for over 100 years. In 2012 ARC changed its focus to concentrate its efforts on the issues of food poverty and healthy eating.