Home > Children & Money > Who Qualifies for Free School Meals?

Who Qualifies for Free School Meals?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 11 Sep 2017 |
 
School Meals Free Milk Tax Credit

Not all parents have to pay for school meals for their children. Parents on income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, the Guarantee element of State Pension Credit, support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are all eligible for Free School Meals for their children.

In addition, parents who are claiming Child Tax Credit are eligible as long as their annual income does not exceed £16,190, and they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit. However, if a parent receives Working Tax Credit for the four-week period after their employment comes to an end, and those who start to work under 16 hours per week, can also expect free school lunches for their children.

If a child receives Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support in their own right, i.e. they are in the sixth form, they are also entitled to claim free school lunches.

How To Apply For Free School Lunches

In order to get free school lunches, you need to apply to your local authority. You can do this by downloading the appropriate form and guidance notes from your local authority website and sending it to the specified address.

Nutritional Standards of School Meals

All Local Education Authority maintained schools are required to meet national standards for nutrition for their pupils. The campaign for better school meals has been high profile and has resulted in the removal of fizzy drinks, chocolate and crisps from vending machines, a limit on the number of deep-fried portions of food that can be served each week, and the introduction of regular offerings of high-quality poultry, meat and oily fish.

In addition, there are at least two portions of fruit and vegetables in each meal and potatoes, bread and other cereals are also readily available. If other meals and snacks are also provided in school, they also have to meet the national nutritional requirements.

Free Milk

There is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide milk to pupils. If they decide to do so, the milk must be free for children who qualify for free school lunches. Nursery and primary school children are provided with 250ml of milk per day which is subsidized by a European Community scheme. Children under the age of five are eligible for free school milk, but you must make a claim for this through your local authority.

Free Fruit and Vegetables

Under the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, the government pays for a free piece of fruit or vegetable once per day on each school day for pupils between the age of four and six years old. However, this is not mandatory and schools do not have to opt in to the scheme. It is also only available to Local Education Authority maintained infant, primary or special schools. The fruit and vegetables that are currently part of the scheme include: pears, strawberries, carrots, bananas, easy peel citrus, cocktail tomatoes, sugar snap peas, pears and mini cucumbers.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Em - Your Question:
I'm on universal credit I'm paid every month. I work part-time I'm on a 10 hour contract but normally work 16 hours. I have four children so if my wages are under 430.00 they take 339.00 off my universal credit money it's called the benefit cap !!! As long as my wages are over 430.00 then they don't touch my money and don't take the benefit cap off me. My free school meals for the kids have been stopped an I don't know why !! I need to know for a 100% am I entitled to free school meals for my children ??! I'm not getting anywhere when I call them it's like I'm banging my head on a brick wall !!!!!! Help !!!!

Our Response:
What a sorry situation to be in, it sounds like you're just trying to work and do the best for your children. We don't have enough information about your situation to give accurate help, but pop to your local Citizens' Advice Bureau - they'll be able to help you and ensure you can apply/claim for whatever you're eligible for. You can also try the Turn 2 Us website which has lots of useful information.
LawAndParents - 12-Sep-17 @ 2:29 PM
I'm on universal credit I'm paid every month. I work part-time I'm on a 10 hour contract but normally work 16 hours. I have four children so if my wages are under 430.00 they take 339.00 off my universal credit money it's called the benefit cap !!! As long as my wages are over 430.00 then they don't touch my money and don't take the benefit cap off me. My free school meals for the kids have been stopped an I don't know why !! I need to know for a 100% am I entitled to free school meals for my children ??! I'm not getting anywhere when I call them it's like I'm banging my head on a brick wall !!!!!! Help !!!!
Em - 11-Sep-17 @ 7:47 PM
Bezzymushroom - Your Question:
Hi, My oldest son is 20 and rents his own house, he has just found a job nearer to me and wanted to move in here for a few months while he saves a bit and finds other accommodation.Will this affect my child tax/working tax credits that I receive for my other children?

Our Response:
If you he is paying you rent it might affect you. You should check tax credits calculator or call tax credit helpline on 0345 300 3900
LawAndParents - 19-Dec-16 @ 12:16 PM
Hi, My oldest son is 20 and rents his own house, he has just found a job nearer to me and wanted to move in here for a few months while he saves a bit and finds other accommodation. Will this affect my child tax/working tax credits that I receive for my other children?
Bezzymushroom - 17-Dec-16 @ 2:34 PM
mel - Your Question:
Hi I would like to know if my child tax credits and my child benefit will be affected if I start working. My partner works 35 hours a week I have just been offered a job which is 18 hours a week. Thank you

Our Response:
We don't know all your circumstances so can't really tell you. You could try using the Child Tax Credits Calculator. Your child benefit only stops if either you or your partner earns more than £50,000 per year.
LawAndParents - 29-Mar-16 @ 2:33 PM
Hi I would like to know if my child tax credits and my child benefit will be affected if I start working.My partner works 35 hours a week I have just been offered a job which is 18 hours a week. Thank you
mel - 28-Mar-16 @ 12:20 AM
@shorty. When your child leaves approved education or training payments will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first).
LawAndParents - 23-Jun-15 @ 11:14 AM
son is 19 i will continue to get child benefit for him until september. His child taxcredit has stopped today. Can he claim any benefits in his own right, he can not claim jsa until his child benefit ends as he as been in college for 3 years. Look forward to your reply
shorty - 18-Jun-15 @ 6:59 AM
if your childs parents are seperated the rules state for claiming free school meals are that achild has to have a parent on the following : therefore if one parent doesnt qualify for free school meals and the other does then they need to claim the free school meals because the guidlines do not not say it has to be the resident parent and therefore either parent can claim contrary to what the council may tell you because the non resident parent is still the childs parent .
STU - 17-Oct-12 @ 12:01 PM
My child has a statement of special needs and is still in school till she is 19yrs old. Can get free home to school transport but can't get free school meals, why?
tr12 - 6-Apr-11 @ 6:45 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kev
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    Hi.my son is 17 at the moment and will be 18 in december. He currently attends an automotive level 2 college course for 9 hrs…
    25 September 2017
  • Cp123
    Re: The Rights of Working Parents
    I've recently asked to change my shifts so they work around school hours 9-3 twice a week and to work a weekend day. As I single…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Could a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
    Chocpenguin - Your Question:I have a problem my brothers partner has 4 kids 2 of which are my brothers.…
    25 September 2017
  • Dazsteele
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    I am currently paying aliment to my ex wife for my daughter (20) who has just started university, my daughter works part time…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Underage Sex: How to Protect Your Children
    Holly - Your Question:Hi at the age of 15 I had sex and ended up having a child at 16with someone that was 18 At…
    25 September 2017
  • Ribs
    Re: Should we Still Pay Maintenance?
    I have three children living who moved to Portugal with their mother in 2002/2003. The oldest child is 24 years old, 25 in…
    25 September 2017
  • aa17
    Re: Changing a Child's Surname
    Hi my daughters biologic father has had no contact with her since she was 3 she is now 8 , she is known as with my husband surname…
    25 September 2017
  • Sammyloo
    Re: Your Rights as a Grandparent
    My granddaughter has been taken in to foster care. Can I see my granddaughter as social services won’t give me any information at…
    25 September 2017
  • LawAndParents
    Re: Legal Entitlement to Child Benefit and Tax Credits
    Pops - Your Question:Hi, am I entitled to claim any child tax credits as my children live with me 3…
    25 September 2017
  • Debbie
    Re: Prohibited Steps Orders
    My ex says he is taking out a prohibited steps order to stop me moving in with my partner and taking our 10 year old daughter with me. He…
    25 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LawAndParents website. Please read our Disclaimer.