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Best Start Foods partnership introduced in 2200 Scottish convenience stores

Chief Executive David Wallace, Scottish Grocers Federation and Keystore staff holding up Best Start Foods sign

People urged to use prepaid card at local shops

Social Security Scotland’s Best Start Foods card will be promoted at more than 2200 local convenience stores under a new partnership with the Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme.

The initiative will raise awareness of the payment and encourage the 40,000 holders of the prepaid card to use it at their local shop.

Retailers will display information around their store to let customers know they accept the prepaid card as a method of payment.

Best Start Foods, administered by Social Security Scotland, helps pregnant women and eligible families with the cost of buying healthy food and milk for babies and children.

The payment is delivered via a prepaid card and is topped up with up to £39.60 every four weeks.

The Scottish Grocers Federation’s Healthy Living Programme will train and encourage staff in shops to get their customers used to paying with Best Start Foods cards.

Among the chains involved in the new scheme are Spar, Keystore, Nisa and Premier. The network of small shops promoting Best Start Foods spans the whole of Scotland including the Shetland Isles in the north to the Scottish Borders in the south and from Harris, Stornoway in the west to Peterhead in the east.

Social Security Scotland Chief Executive David Wallace who launched the scheme on a visit to the local branch of Keystore in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, said:

“Local convenience shops can sometimes be the lifeblood of their communities. This initiative means owners and staff can offer support to their customers, ensuring they use all of the financial support available to them.

“I would encourage anyone who has a Best Start Foods card to check their balance and to make sure they are using it regularly.

“As well as the smaller local stores the card can be used in most big supermarkets and online.”

Kathryn Neil, Programme Director of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s Healthy Living Programme said:

“We are delighted to collaborate on raising the awareness and up take of the Best Start Foods scheme in convenience stores.

“This positive partnership presents the opportunity for Healthy Living Partnership to join up with other Scottish Government policies.

“Healthy Living Partnership’s relationships with the convenience and wholesale sector allows us to deliver the information to consumers in the most deprived areas of Scotland and reaching those who are eligible.”

Store owner Chris Watson has supported community events since he took the shop over from his dad in 1988. He supplies free water for sports days to nearby Fordbank Primary School.

He provided a home delivery service during the pandemic to locals who were shielding or didn’t feel comfortable leaving their home.

Chris Watson, owner of Keystore in Ness Avenue, Johnstone said: “I’ve been in convenience retail for over 30 years and times are really hard for my customers.

“If I can highlight the Best Start scheme and customers can benefit from it, it can only be a good thing.”


The Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme was established in 2004 by the Scottish Government to encourage the sale of fruit and vegetables through convenience stores in Scotland.

The Scottish Government replaced the UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme in Scotland with Best Start Foods on 12 August 2019

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that can be used in shops or online to buy healthy foods like milk or fruit. It is:

  • £19.80 every 4 weeks during pregnancy – the payment amount is per pregnancy.
  • £39.60 every 4 weeks from birth until the age of one
  • £19.80 every 4 weeks for children between the ages of one and 3 years old

Balances can be checked online via clients’ allpay accounts which they were given when they received their Best Start Foods card or by calling allpay on 0808 196 1687.

To check balance at a cash machine, clients should enter their 4-digit PIN, as if using a bank card at a cash machine.

Applicants under the age of 18 will be eligible for Best Start Foods during pregnancy and up until their child turns one, without the need to be in receipt of benefits.

Applicants over 18 need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit. At present, income thresholds also apply for some of these qualifying benefits. These income thresholds will be removed by end of 2023-24.

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