You are now leaving the Turn2us site. Turn2us is not responsible for content on third party sites.



Free school meals

Schools must provide some pupils with a free midday meal. This page explains who qualifies for this.

There are different schemes for free school meals in different parts of the UK

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

England

Can my child get free school meals?

While schools are closed because of coronavirus, some families are being given vouchers to help cover the cost of buying food for their children, or are being given food packages.

These vouchers and packages are provided by schools.

To be get these vouchers or packages, you have to be entitled to free school meals on the basis of your income. 

While schools are open, all children in reception or years 1 or 2 are entitled to free lunches, but this doesn't in itself mean your family will be entitled to vouchers. If your child has been getting free lunches because they are in reception or year 1 or 2 and you are on a low income, please check whether you should register now for free school meals so you can get the vouchers.

For your child to qualify for free school meals you must get one of the following benefits:

Children aged between 16 and 18 who are getting Universal Credit in their own name can also get free school meals.

Families who were already getting free school meals on 31 March 2019 can carry on getting them until 31 December 2023, even if the household's income changes. 

I just lost my job and claimed Universal Credit - will I be able to claim free school meals?

Most councils work out whether you can get free school meals based on your earnings in your previous assessment period for Universal Credit. This can mean that councils aren't able to process your claim for free school meals until after you have received your first Universal Credit payment.

How do I apply for free school meals?

You need to get in touch with your local council to apply for free school meals. They may have their own application forms for you to fill in.

How much will I get?

Some schools are giving food direct to families instead of using vouchers or payments.

For schools that are giving vouchers or payments, different schools are giving different amounts, but it is generally around £15 per week per child.

Wales

Can my child get free school meals?

While schools are closed because of coronavirus, some families are being given vouchers to help cover the cost of buying food for their children, or are being given food packages.

These vouchers and packages are being provided by councils.

 For your child to qualify for free school meals you must get one of the following benefits:

Children aged between 16 and 18 who are getting Universal Credit in their own name can also get free school meals.

Families who were already getting free school meals on 31 March 2019 can carry on getting them until 31 December 2023, even if the household's income changes. 

I just lost my job and claimed Universal Credit - will I be able to claim free school meals?

Most councils work out whether you can get free school meals based on your earnings in your previous assessment period for Universal Credit. This can mean that councils aren't able to process your claim for free school meals until after you have received your first Universal Credit payment.

How do I apply for free school meals?

You need to get in touch with your local council to apply for free school meals. They may have their own application forms for you to fill in.

How much will I get?

Some councils are giving food direct to families instead of using vouchers or payments.

For councils that are giving vouchers or payments, different councils are giving different amounts, but it is generally around £20 per week per child.

Scotland

Can my child get free school meals?

While schools are closed because of coronavirus, some families are being given vouchers or payments to help cover the cost of buying food for their children, or are being given food packages.

These vouchers and packages are being provided by councils.

To be entitled to these vouchers or packages, you have to be entitled to free school meals on the basis of your income. 

While schools are open all children in primary years 1, 2 and 3 are entitled to free lunches, but this doesn't in itself mean your family will be entitled to vouchers. If your child has been getting free lunches because they are in primary 1, 2 or 3 and you are on a low income, you should check whether you should register now for free school meals so you can get the vouchers.

For your child to qualify for free school meals you must get one of the following benefits:

Your child can also get free school meals if, at any point after the age of two, they were

  • looked after (or in care)
  • subject to a kinship care order
  • subject to a guardianship order

Children aged between 16 and 18 who are getting Universal Credit in their own name can also get free school meals.

I just lost my job and claimed Universal Credit - will I be able to claim free school meals?

Some councils are able to provide free school meals for children whose families have made a new claims for Universal Credit and haven't had their first payment yet. Check your council's website for their claims process.

How do I apply for free school meals?

You will need to apply to your council for free school meals. Your council might need you to fill out an application form.

How much will I get?

Some councils are giving food direct to families instead of using vouchers or payments.

For councils that are giving vouchers or payments, different councils are giving different amounts, but it is generally around £10 per week per child.

Northern Ireland

Can my child get free school meals?

While schools are closed because of coronavirus, some families are being payments to help cover the cost of buying food for their children.

These payments are being provided by the Education Authority.

To be entitled to these payments, you have to be entitled to free school meals on the basis of your income. 

For your child to qualify for free school meals you must get one of the following benefits:

Children aged between 16 and 18 who are getting Universal Credit in their own name can also get free school meals.

I just lost my job and claimed Universal Credit - will I be able to claim free school meals?

The Education Authority works out whether you can get free school meals based on your earnings in your previous assessment period for Universal Credit. This can mean that they aren't able to process your claim for free school meals until after you have received your first Universal Credit payment.

How do I apply for free school meals?

The application form to apply for free school meals is available on the Northern Ireland Education Authority website.

How much will I get?

You will receive a payment of £27 per fortnight per child while the schools remain closed.

Updated: 16 April 2020