Free school meals
Coronavirus (COVID-19): change to service
A national voucher scheme has been launched allowing eligible children to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.
If your child is at home, a packed lunch, weekly food hamper or food vouchers will be provided depending on the school’s arrangements. Schools will be in contact with families eligible for this scheme.
If you think your family meets the criteria, please speak to your school.
The Government have also introduced a temporary free school meal scheme for families that have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
See further information about changes to services.
Free school meals are available to children whose parents receive financial support.
Who qualifies for free school meals
Your child qualifies for free school meals as long as you receive any of these benefits:
- 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, you must also have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
- Working Tax Credit 'run-on' payment (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit: this is as long as your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
The school doesn't see any information about your income.
Children who are paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.
Apply for free school meals
This application should only take a few minutes to complete. You'll need your National Insurance number or Asylum Seekers Service number so we can make automated checks to confirm your entitlement.
If your child attends one of the following academies in Christchurch, then please contact Dorset County Council to make a Free School Meal Application instead:
- Christchurch Junior School
- Highcliffe School
- The Grange School
- Twynham Primary School
- Twynham School
This application is for the family, so you should only need to do it once, no matter how many children it's for.
If one of your children has just started school and their siblings already get free school meals, you will need to reapply so that we can add them to the award.
Free school meals during Universal Credit roll-out
If you have any children who were deemed eligible as of 1st April 2018, their eligibility will be protected until March 2023. This protection applies to the individual child only rather than the family.
All children who currently receive free school meals will remain eligible until at least 31 March 2023. This also applies to any new children who are approved.
This means between now and 31 March 2023, you do not need to contact us to cancel free school meals, even if you feel your child is no longer eligible.
From 31 March 2023, any child receiving free school meals will remain eligible until they have finished that school phase, for example, a child in reception on 31 March 2023 would remain eligible until they finish primary school in 2029.
This protection has been put in place while the government rolls out Universal Credits nationally.
Universal infant free school meals
Your child can get free school meals if they're in:
- reception class
- year 1
- year 2
However, if you receive any qualifying benefits, you should complete a free school meal application anyway, even if your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2. This has no effect on your entitlement, but it could provide extra funding for your school.
This extra funding is called pupil premium and it helps to:
- support more disadvantaged pupils of all abilities to achieve their full potential
- close any achievement gaps between these pupils and their peers
Depending on the school's strategy, they can use the pupil premium funding to help you with things like the cost of school uniform or school trips. Check your school's website to find out more about how they use the funding to improve children's achievements.
If you have any questions or need help, please contact our Free School Meals team: