If your child is under 19 and in full time education, they may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:
- 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 are not also receiving Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit - if you applied on or after 1 April 2018, your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.
Your child may also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:
- younger than the compulsory age for starting school
- in full-time education
Universal infant free school meals in England
Your child will be able to get free school meals if they are in a government-funded school and in:
- reception class
- year 1
- year 2
If your child qualifies for free school meals, it is important that you tell their school, even if they take a packed lunch. This will allow the school to claim pupil funding for your child and allows them to provide your child with further support and opportunities.
We advise signing up for free school meals whilst your child is an infant. Even though they will be receiving a free school meal already, this could enable your child’s school to apply for extra money to help support your child.
You can check if you are eligible by filling in the Free School Meals form.
Free school meals for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers can apply for free school meals if they have a NASS Number.
Providing free school meals to families with no access to public funds
Children in households who are unable to claim public funds should be able to access free school meals (subject to maximum income limits). Please contact your school office to apply for free school meals under this scheme. The school will ask you to complete an application form, you can get help to fill the form in from the school office.