Free school meals

There are two schemes for free school meals:

  • universal infant free school meals for all children in reception year, year 1 and year 2 – you don’t need to apply as they’re automatically given at the school
  • free school meals for people on qualifying benefits – you’ll need to apply for these

If you claim qualifying benefits and your child is entitled to universal infant school meals, you should still apply for free school meals so:

  • you’re eligible for other financial assistance for items such as school trips
  • the school can receive funding for the free school meals

Qualifying benefits for free school meals

Your child will be entitled to free school meals if you get any of these benefits:

  • income support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit with annual take home pay/met earnings below £7,400 (which equals £616.67 per month) benefits not included

How to apply

Free school meals entitlement is for the child, not the family, so you will need to apply for each child when they start school.

If your child is starting school in September, you should apply during the summer holidays as we cannot deal with your application earlier. Applying too early could result in your application being removed.

If you are moving into North Somerset from another area you will need to apply.

You will need your National insurance number to apply.

If you are eligible

If you are eligible you will be able to download an eligibility letter.

If you require free school meals immediately, please show this letter to the school and remember to keep a copy of the letter in case the school asks to see it again.

You can print it, download it or screenshot it. We will also notify schools of eligible pupils via a report. This may take up to 10 working days, so please do download your eligibility letter.

Under the current rules, eligibility will last until the end of the primary, secondary or sixth form school your child is currently in.

Please do not re-apply as you may lose your entitlement based on a new assessment.

If your application isn’t successful

If your application isn’t successful, check your National Insurance number and try again. If this doesn’t work, select the ‘referral’ button to let us know what benefits you are on and we’ll ask you for evidence.

When to reapply

Due to the roll-out of Universal Credit, all pupils who are currently eligible for free school meals will be protected until the end of the primary, secondary or sixth form school they are currently in.

This means:

  • If your child stays in the same school, you don’t need to do anything. Your free school meals will continue – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.
  • If your child moves school, please email in to and we will update your free school meals record for you – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.

Children do not receive free school meals in college.

If your child changes school or address, please email so we can update your free school meals record.

We will update this page should the guidance change.