Apply for free school meals

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

  • You can apply online for free school meals by clicking the green button below
  • You will get an immediate response and confirmation email after you've completed your application 

Please note if your child is of nursery/pre-school age, you should not apply for Free School Meals here. Applications for children starting in Reception Year in September will be processed in August.  Please visit the Early Years website page for further information on what is available for your child.   

Apply now

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 less hours per week
  • Universal Credit

To check if your child is eligible call 01473 260989.

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 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
  • we will contact the school directly to confirm that your child is not eligible for free meals.

What evidence of benefits should I send with my application?

You don't need to submit proof when you apply online.

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 aren't eligible, this doesn't necessarily mean that your children aren't entitled to free school meals. If you believe that you are entitled, please contact the Free School Meals team on 01473 260989 or email

What if I cannot apply online?

In exceptional circumstances, we will accept a paper application, if, for example, you do not have access to the internet have no email address or have language difficulties. Please ring the Free School Meal team for an application form on 01473 260989 or email

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

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

Yes, you can apply for all your children in the same application with the exception of nursery aged children.  Please visit the Early Years page for further information.

How are free school meals paid for?

No money changes hands between the Council and the claimant.

Once your application has been successful we will 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?

Unless you update any change in your circumstances (eg name change, change of address, etc), please be aware that your application may be rejected automatically. 


  • Call 0345 606 6067 if you've any questions. You won't be able to apply over the phone because you need to provide an email address and password and sign the declaration stating that you have parental responsibility.
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