Free school meals

Criteria for free school meals

Children attending our schools whose parents or carers receive any of these benefits are entitled to free school meals:

  • income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)


You can apply online to get an instant result. If you are eligible, your entitlement will begin on the day you apply and will end on the last day of terms two, four and six.

We ask parents to check their entitlement three times a year:

  • apply in August for the September to December terms
  • apply in the Christmas holiday for the January to Easter terms
  • apply in the Easter holiday for the Easter to summer terms

If you enter your email address when making an application we will send you reminders for renewing your free school meal entitlement.

We are unable to backdate claims, so please ensure you apply in time.

If you are eligible you will be able to download an eligibility letter. If you are applying during the school holidays, we will notify the school for you. If you are applying during term time, you’ll need to show the school the letter in order to get your free meals. Keep a copy of the letter in case the school asks to see it again.

apply for free school meals

You should still apply if you claim benefits and have a child in reception, year 1 or year 2. This is to:

  • make you eligible for other financial assistance for items such as school trips
  • enable a school to receive the funding

Changes to your circumstances

You must let us know any change in address or benefits that you receive. Entitlements to free school meals are reviewed regularly so your entitlement may be cancelled if we don’t have current details. If our checks show that you are no longer entitled, we will contact you.

free school meals