Free school meals

If your child’s in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2, they’ll get a free lunch at school every day. Make sure you tell your school if you also meet the criteria below – by doing so, you’ll get your school extra funding to support your child’s learning.

If your child’s in Year 3 or above, depending on your circumstances, you may still qualify to have school meals for free. It could save you more than £350 a year, and you won’t need to worry about making packed lunches every day.

Your child may qualify if you’re entitled to receive one or more of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • An income-related employment and support allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190

If you’re receiving Working Tax Credit for four weeks after your employment has finished, your child is still entitled to free school meals during that period. This also applies if you start working fewer than 16 hours per week.

Children who receive Income Support or income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance in their own right qualify as well.

How to apply

Directgov helps you to find out information on the application process in your area. Simply enter your postcode and follow the link to your local authority.
You can also ask your school, who will be able to give you an application form or tell you who to call at your local council.