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.
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.
My children qualified for free school meals as I was on income support. My partner has now moved in and we clain UC as a couple. He works, but my friend says I still get free school meals on UC until 2022 is this correct please?
louise - 6-Sep-19 @ 2:16 PM
My disabled son lives in residential he gets ESA a large portion pays towards his care .can he claim for free school meals
Jackie - 28-Feb-19 @ 10:02 AM
I adopted my foster child who has special needs I was given a full adoption allowance .the coucul knew my financial situation .Ben will be 20in October he is going to college for 2 years
Ben will never live independently and will not be in receipt of job seekers or esa as he will be at college 7 days per week .
I cannot go to work as I need to be here weekends and school holidays to look after him
I thought even thought a previous looked after child was regarded ‘as a child in need till’24
Looking at the adoption agreement the funding will quote ‘ will be to the age of 18 or Ben finishes his full time education’ unquote
I would appreciate your views
Patlo - 13-Jun-18 @ 9:02 PM
I’m on income surport
Do I have to pay for school trips and after school clubs , as I’m sure I’ve been told if I’m receiving benefits I don’t have to
H - 10-Jun-18 @ 10:37 PM
Hello there, my child started a reception but I was told there is not a free milk scheme,only for a nursery children. Could I still apply for a school milk scheme alone regardless the school?thank you.
Samanka - 8-Dec-17 @ 10:54 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?
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
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?