Apply for free school meals

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


  • can apply online for free school meals (green button below). If your school is an academy, they may not accept online applications, and you may need to speak directly to your school
  • will get an immediate response and confirmation email after you've completed your application

How to get access to food now

Contact Suffolk Advice and Support Service if you need access to food now. Call 0800 068 3131, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. You can access this service whether you apply for free school meals or not.

How to apply online for free school meals

If you have not been allocated a school place for your child yet, please wait for confirmation of this place before you apply for free school meals.

If your child is eligible for and has been registered to receive free school meals between 1 April 2018 and the end of the rollout of Universal Credits (currently expected to be until March 2023), they will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they are in at the end of Universal Credits rollout. This is regardless of any change to your circumstances.

If your child is already in receipt of free school meals and is moving to a secondary school in September 2022 (year 7), there is no current need to reapply at this stage as they will remain eligible at their new school.

If your child is attending a nursery school:

  • they must be in a maintained school nursery as a registered pupil at the school
  • your child must be in receipt of education before and after lunch on the same day
  • you must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit (as described below)
  • you should apply online by clicking the green button below.

Apply now for free school meals

Note: You will not be able to apply over the phone because you need to provide an email address, password and sign the declaration stating that you have parental responsibility.

Beware of Scammers

Suffolk County Council will never ask for your personal bank details.

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 no element of 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 fewer hours per week
  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400 (£616.67 per month), as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods).

To check if your child is eligible, apply online for an immediate response or call 0345 606 6067 for advice.

If your child is not attending either a sixth form provision or Suffolk One Sixth Form College, please contact your post-16 provider directly to find out about any free school meal options that they may have.

If your application is successful:

  • you will get an immediate online response (on-screen), and a confirmation message will be sent to your Citizens' Portal account
  • we will contact the school directly to confirm that your child is eligible for free meals and when this will start.

If your application is unsuccessful:

  • you will get an immediate online response (on-screen), and a confirmation message will be sent to your Citizens' Portal account
  • if required, you may have to submit proof of household earnings 
  • if you are new to Universal Credits, we may have to keep checking your eligibility for up to six weeks
  • we will contact the school directly to confirm that your child is not eligible for free meals
  • if you are not on a regular income, we may need to assess your income over a 12-week period to establish eligibility
  • we are unable to backdate any claims.

Note: If your child's school has not signed up to the service, we will not accept online applications. You will need to speak to the school directly.

What evidence of benefits should I send with my application?

You do not need to submit proof when you apply online. If we need evidence from you, we will ask for it.

We will 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 are not eligible, this does not necessarily mean that your children are not entitled to free school meals. It could be that you have entered some information incorrectly or that we need to continue to check your income for a period of time. This will be six weeks if you are a new applicant for Universal Credits or up to 12 weeks if you do not have a regular income.

Please note that we cannot backdate entitlement from the date you have eligibility confirmed. If you believe that you are entitled, please contact the Free School Meals team on 0345 606 6067 or email

What if I cannot apply online?

In exceptional circumstances, we will accept a paper application. For example, if you do not have access to the internet, have no email address or have language difficulties. Please ring the Free School Meals team for an application form on 0345 606 6067 or email

My school is not listed when I apply online. What do I do?

If your school is not listed and it is an academy, this means that they have not signed up for the service to allow us to process applications on their behalf. You will need to speak to your academy or free school directly to ask how to apply for free school meals.

If your school is not listed and it is a community or voluntary controlled school, please contact the Free School Meals team on 0345 606 6067 or email us at

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

As long as you remain eligible, this is an ongoing entitlement, and you do not have to apply again.

During the rollout of Universal Credits, if you are eligible for free school meals at any time between 1 April 2018 and the end of the rollout of Universal Credits (currently due to end March 2023), you will receive free school meals over that period, regardless of any change in circumstances over that period.

Your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the phase of education that they are in when the Universal Credit rollout is completed (primary or secondary school).

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

Yes, you can apply for all your children in the same application, including nursery aged children who attend a maintained nursery for a full day. Please visit the Early Years page for further information.

Call 0345 606 6067 if you have any questions or email us at