A fresh fruit and veg voucher scheme will be launched in Walworth’s East Street Market to help tackle childhood obesity.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and Alexandra Rose Charity have joined together to launch the scheme to help families buy healthy, fresh food.
According to a spokesperson for the initiative, the charities aim to support up to 250 families living in Walworth for the next two years.
The charities have chosen to focus on Faraday ward in Walworth as it has one one the highest numbers of children who are obese in the country, and high levels of deprivation.
Vouchers for £80,000 worth of fresh fruit and veg are expected to be spent throughout the two years, helping to support the 100-year-old market’s independent traders.
Jonathan Pauling, chief executive of Alexandra Rose Charity said: “We believe that everyone should have access to affordable and healthy food in their local area.
“We are delighted to be launching the rose vouchers for fruit and veg scheme in Southwark with the support of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.
“We know that the scheme is hugely successful at getting families with young children to eat more fruit and veg and we have seen the improvements in health and well-being that the project achieves.
“What is most exciting about this project is to see how, when delivered in tandem with a range of other initiatives, we can play a crucial part in shifting the dial on childhood obesity.”
A single mother from Walworth, who has joined the scheme, said: “I have a son who is four years old and a baby daughter. I cannot work and have not got stable accommodation.
“Feeding my children has been difficult, but now I have the help of the Rose vouchers, I get nine pounds weekly to buy fruit and vegetables.
“I have not felt this happy and relieved for a long time.”
One in four children in Southwark is obese, or overweight, the time they start school, and Southwark and Lambeth are two of the worst affected boroughs in the entire country.
In March 2017, the News spoke with a consultant obesity physician from Guy’s, Dr Jude Oben, who said: “Obesity is the HIV of our age. It has the makings of a public health catastrophe for children which needs to be averted.
“We need a public education programme to make people aware of the link with cancer and other serious health conditions.”
Studies have linked obesity to increasing the risk of developing more than fifteen cancers, including breast cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer, as well as type-two diabetes, arthritis, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
People can register for the voucher scheme at their local children’s centres. Each voucher is worth £3 per child, or £6 if the child is under one, and can redeemed at registered street markets, covered markets, farmers markets, independent green grocers and community food projects.
The Alexandra Rose Charity was set up in 1912 by Queen Alexandra to help raise funds for healthcare for Londoners in poverty, and in 2012 the charity adapted its worth to concentrate on diet-related ill health and food poverty, with the first voucher schemes set up in 2014.
Picture credit: Liz Finlayson/Verdate