Apply for free school meals

Find out if your child is eligible for free school meals and how to apply.

It's quicker and easier to apply for free school meals in Suffolk online.

Start

Your child will get free school meals if you receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit but not the Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenues & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
  • If you are supported under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after your employment finishes or after you start to work less hours per week.

To check if your child is eligible call:

  • 01473 260989 (Ipswich/Lowestoft and surrounding area)
  • 01284 758883 (Bury St Edmunds and surrounding area)

If your child attends a sixth form you need to contact the school directly to find out if they are eligible and apply.

If your online application is successful

We will:

  • send you an email to acknowledge receipt of your application
  • send you an email to tell you that your application has been approved
  • contact your children's school directly to confirm that your child/children are eligible for free meals and advise them the date that this commences
  • write to you to confirm the details of your successful application
If your paper application is successful

 We will: 

  • contact your children's school directly to confirm that your child/children are eligible for free meals and advise them the date that this commences
  • write to you to confirm the details of your successful application 
If your application is un-successful

We will confirm our decision to you in writing.

What evidence of benefits should I send with my application?

You don't need to send us proof with your application form.

We'll check your entitlement securely via the Government's benefits database.

To do this we need your: 

  • surname
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number or National Asylum Seeker Service reference number 

The online check will only identify whether you are entitled to free school meals, no other information is revealed.

If the check indicates that you aren't eligible, this doesn't necessarily mean that your children aren't entitled to free school meals. We'll contact you and request proof of a qualifying benefit in order for us to carry out a manual assessment.

How often will I need to apply for free school meals?

As long as you remain eligible, this is an ongoing entitlement and you don't have to apply again.

However, we'll carry out regular audit checks and if at any time we cannot confirm that you are eligible, we'll ask you to provide evidence of a qualifying benefit.

Can I claim for more than one child on one application form?

Yes, you can apply for all your children in the same application.

How are free school meals paid for?

No money exchanges hands between the Council and the claimant.

Once your application has been successful we'll notify your child’s school that they are entitled to free school meals and confirm the date this entitlement commences.

Please be aware that your child/children can have a free meal at school up to the value of the current rate, any cost over the current rate will need to be paid for. Details of the rates can be obtained direct from the school.

Will my child receive tokens or any evidence they are entitled to free school meals?

Not always, every school is different. Once your application has been confirmed as successful contact the school to see how they run the scheme.

Who is informed that my child is receiving free school meals?

We aim to keep this confidential between the claimant, school and local authority.

What do I do if my circumstances change?

Tell us when there are changes to your personal circumstances such as:

  • if you start work and come off benefit
  • if the type of benefit you receive changes
  • if you change address
  • if your child changes school

Please contact us on 0345 606 6067 as quickly as possible to notify us about any of the changes mentioned above.

You can get a paper application form by:

 

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