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Free School Meals

Dear Parent/Guardian,


We want to make sure that we are providing your child with the best education and support we can. Healthy school food has obvious health benefits and can help pupils establish healthy habits for life. Healthy school food can also help to improve pupils’ readiness to learn.

Families who receive certain benefits may be eligible for free school meals. Your child is eligible for free school meals if you’re in receipt of one of the following benefits:

· Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400.

· Income Support

· Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

· Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

· Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

· The guarantee element of Pension Credit

· Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for the four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax  Credit)

· Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) with an annual income of no more than £16,190

Registering for free meals could also raise an extra £1,320 for the school, to fund valuable support like extra tuition, additional teaching staff or after school activities. This additional money is available from central government for every child whose parent is receiving one of the benefits listed above.


To check if your child is eligible, we need information about you and your child and you can apply directly through the Lincolnshire County Council website or see the school office.


Free school meals entitlement

Who is entitled to free school meals?

Parents do not have to pay for school lunches if they receive 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 Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit* and have an annual household income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
  • Universal Credit

*unless in the Working Tax Credit 'run on' - the payment someone may receive for a further 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
Children who receive any of the qualifying benefits listed above in their own right are also eligible to receive free school meals.

Additionally free school meals are provided to pupils in the following school years:

  • Reception
  • Year 1
  • Year 2

What if my circumstances change?

  • You should notify the school of any changes:
  • if you start work and come off benefit
  • if you change address
  • if your child changes school

What is the Pupil Premium?

The school receives a Pupil Premium payment for the year in which families are eligible for free school meals and automatically for the next five years. This year it is £1320 for primary pupils. This additional funding will be invested in your child to help them achieve more at school.


Eligibility criteria and information on free school meals are available to download at:

Registration forms are available to download at:


Free School Meals and Healthy Eating

Over the last few years the quality of school food has improved dramatically. Research shows that pupils are more likely to concentrate in lessons if they have eaten a nutritionally balanced meal at lunchtime. By choosing school lunches, not only will you be saving yourself the time of preparing a packed lunch every day, you can also be sure that your child is getting the range and amount of food that will help contribute to their health and well-being. On average parents spend £450 on packed lunches per year for each child, which is money that could be spent on other things.



Free School Meals

Children’s Services

County Offices




Tel: (01522) 782030

Fax: (01522) 516054


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for free school meals?

You will need to complete a registration form which you can get from your child’s school. The person who is in receipt of the qualifying benefit will need to complete the form. You will be asked to complete your full name, DOB and NI number. It is recommended that both parents information is provided, so that we can check both for eligibility.

How do I make a complaint about the content of my child’s free school meal?

You will need to make an official complaint to your child’s school, as it is responsible for finding a supplier for the free school meals. If you are not happy with how the school handles your complaint, then you will need to make a complaint to the Schools Liaison Officer at Lincolnshire County Council.

Do I need to fill out a separate application form for free school meals if all my children go to different schools?

Yes, you will need to complete a separate form at each different school.

How will my child get their free school meal?

It is different at each school. You will need to contact your child’s school to find out how the school meals are distributed

Can I claim for free school meals even though I have just turned 60 and now get pension credit instead of income support?

Yes. The Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit is now a qualifying benefit in its own right, with effect from 30 April 2005.

Am I entitled to free school meals if I get incapacity benefit?

No. Incapacity benefit is not a qualifying benefit. However, you may still qualify under the Child Tax Credit Criterion.

Will I qualify for free school meals even though I get working tax credit?

No. You will not be entitled to free school meals if you receive any Working Tax Credit*. This has been decided by the Central Government and is outlined in the 2002 Education Act. (*unless you are in the Working Tax Credit run-on, the payment someone may receive for a further 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

What should I do if my child does not want their free school meal?

If your child does not want to take up their entitlement to a free school meal, you will need to inform the school, so that they do not order a meal. Your entitlement will not be cancelled, unless your circumstances change, as your child may benefit from the Pupil Premium.

Can I claim for free school meals for my foster child?

No. If you are fostering a child, you will be in receipt of a foster carer’s allowance to cover costs such as school meals. Therefore, you will not be entitled to free school meals for that child.

Can I get free school meals for my nephew who lives with me?

As long as you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and you are receiving Child Tax Credit for your nephew.

Can my partner claim free school meals for my children?

Yes - as long as you all live at the same address. Your partner will need to fill in the application form as they are in receipt of the benefit. Please note that the school may require further evidence that your partner receives benefits for your children.

What is my annual household income?

Your annual household income is the total income figure for the current tax year as decided by HM Revenue and Customs. This means if you claim Child Tax Credits as part of a couple then your income will be the total joint income figure as assessed by HMRC.