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 apply for free school meals near the end of the summer term or during the school summer holiday you will not be eligible for the voucher scheme as the scheme is closing.

Schools have a deadline to order vouchers by mid-July. The usual free school meal entitlement will begin from the date your child starts attending school. Eligibility will last until the end of the school phase your child is in as at 31 March 2022. You will not have to re-apply during this time.

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, please note this may take up to 10 working days, so please do download your eligibility letter.

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 that are currently eligible for free school meals will be protected until the end of the school stage they are in on 31 March 2022.

This means if your child is receiving free school meals at primary school in March 2022, you won’t need to reapply for them until they start secondary school.

Children do not receive free school meals in college.

If your child changes school or address before 31 March 2022, email fsm@n-somerset.gov.uk so we can update your free school meals record.