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How to apply for free school meals

We want to make sure that every child eats well when they’re at school. If your family finds it difficult to afford lunch for your children, you can apply for free school meals.

Who qualifies for free school meals?

Your child might be able to get free school meals if you get 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 guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit. You must also have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018, your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get).

Free school meals during Universal Credit roll-out

If you have any children who were deemed eligible as of 1st April 2018, their eligibility will be protected until March 2022. This protection applies to the individual child only rather than the family.

All children who currently receive free school meals will remain eligible until at least 31 March 2022. This also applies to any new children who are approved.

This means between now and 31 March 2022, you do not need to contact us to cancel free school meals, even if you feel your child is no longer eligible.

From 31 March 2022, any child receiving free school meals will remain eligible until they have finished that school phase, for example, a child in reception on 31 March 2022 would remain eligible until they finish primary school in 2028.

This protection has been put in place while the government rolls out Universal Credits nationally.

Pupil Premium Grant

If you are eligible for free school meals, your child’s school can access The Pupil Premium Grant. This grant must be spent by your child’s school to help eligible pupils reach their full potential, both academically and socially. The school decides how best to spend this.

How to apply for free school meals

If you have a child that attends one of the schools in the table below, contact the school directly to apply for Free School Meals.

We do not process for the following schools. Please contact these schools directly to find out how to apply.
Avonbourne Boy's Academy Highcliffe Secondary Baden Powell & St Peter's CE Junior
Avonbourne Girl's Academy Christchurch Junior Cornerstone Academy
Avonwood Primary School The Grange School Heatherlands
Bethany Junior Twynham Primary School Lilliput CE Infant
Elm Academy Twynham School Merley First School
Glenmoor Academy   Old Town First School
Heathlands   Quay School
Leaf Studio   Springdale First School
Oak Academy    
Queens Park Infants    
St Clement's    
St James' CE Primary School    
St Luke's    
Stourfield infant School    
Stourfield Junior School    
Winton Academy    

If your child's school is not listed above, you can apply for free school meals online.

We’ll tell you whether we can give you free meals within a week. We’ll also send a report to the school to let them know your children have qualified for free school meals.


If you have any questions or need help, please contact our Free School Meals team.

Free School Meals

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