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Free school meals

Find out about free school meals for those in need during the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

A free school meal is a school lunch we provide free of charge to children from families on a low income:

Who can get free school meal

If your child attends primary school and qualifies for this entitlement they will be provided with a free school meal. An online payment system is in operation which will recognise when a child is entitled. Though payments are not required parents and carers are advised to register to access this system to allow them to view daily meal choices a pupil is making.

If a child attends a secondary, they will be given a daily credit allowance to be used in the school dining hall at lunchtime. The credit allowance is the equivalent value of a two course meal. This automatically goes onto a pupil’s account at the start of each day. Any sum remaining after the lunch period is removed.

View our guide on how to obtain free schools meals (pdf 267KB).

Children are eligible for free school meals if their parents (or carers) are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

The qualifying benefits and allowances are:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Any income related element of Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit (WTC), and have an income of less than £16,105
  • Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit with an income of less than £7,330
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit with a monthly take home pay of less than £610

Pupils are eligible for free school meals in their own right if they are between 16 and 18 years old and fall into this category.

Children from families within the following categories may also be eligible for free school meals:

  • Student parents who have children at school providing you are receiving Child Tax Credit and your income is less than £16,105
  • Parents or carers who have savings above £16,000, but very low income

How to apply

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction you will not need to submit a separate application form. If you qualify for free school meals we will write to you and confirm your entitlement.

There is some supporting documentation you need to provide when you apply.

View free school meals and clothing grants privacy notice (pdf 40KB).

Apply for free school meals

Alternatively you can contact us for an application or obtain one from your child's school.

Supporting documents

When you complete and return your application form you will have to provide some documentary evidence. This could be:

  • A scanned or copy letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) less than three months old confirming the type of benefit and current eligibility
  • A scanned or copy letter from HMRC if you receive Tax Credits. This must be the award notice TC602 for from HM Revenue and Customs
  • Pension Credit Award Notice for including assessment pages
  • Confirmation of current support from Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

You can send the documentary evidence with your claim form, however we don't advise that you send any valuable documents by post. You may wish to bring your documents to your nearest local Benefits office where the documents will be verified and returned to you immediately.

If you are experiencing any difficulties in providing the documentary evidence in support of your claim please contact us for advice and assistance.

If your circumstances change

If your circumstances change for any reason you must contact us.


If you have a query about entitlement to free school meals you can contact our Support and Advice team: