LOW-income families in Shrewsbury could get vouchers to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Pregnant women could also get free infant formula milk and children free vitamins in a UK-wide initiative called Healthy Start.

The scheme aims to reduce the risk of health problems associated with vitamin deficiencies such as rickets and spina bifida.

Emma Peace from Shropshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT) said: “This is a great scheme all about getting the absolute best start for babies and young children.

“Families will get vouchers worth between £3.10 and £6.20 a week, as well as vouchers for free vitamins up until the child is four, depending on the stage of pregnancy or parenthood.

“In total this can add up to over £700 worth of fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, milk and vitamins. So it’s worth doing.”

Mothers-to-be have to be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four-years-old to qualify.

They must also be in receipt of income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or child tax credit providing they have an annual family income of £16,190 or less.

Pregnant women under 18 are also eligible even if they do not get any of the above benefits or tax credits.

Eligible families will need to have their application signed by a health professional to get their vouchers.

Vouchers are then issued to families from Healthy Start every eight weeks.

Emma added: “As well as making sure families our midwives and health visitors see are aware of the scheme, we are working with the benefits office and Sure Start Children’s Centres to promote the scheme.

“It is vital that everyone who is eligible for the free vouchers should be given the opportunity to get them and to make sure they and their children have a healthy start.”

Vitamin vouchers can be exchanged for free  vitamins at a range of community pharmacists that are taking part in the scheme.

Money off coupons towards fruit, vegetables and milk can used at participating local retailers.

 Visit www.shropshire.nhs.uk