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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 31st March 2023. This protection applies to the individual child only rather than the family.

All children who currently receive free school meals will remain eligible until 31st March 2023. This also applies to any new children who are approved.

This means between now and 31st March 2023, you do not need to contact us to cancel free school meals, even if you feel your child is no longer eligible.

From 31st March 2023, any child receiving free school meals will remain eligible until they have finished that school phase, for example, a child in reception on 31st March 2023 would remain eligible until they finish primary school in 2029.

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 only process applications for maintained schools, free schools, and academies.

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 Cornerstone Academy
Avonbourne Girl's Academy Christchurch Junior Heatherlands
Avonwood Primary School The Grange School Merley First School
Bethany Junior Twynham Primary School Old Town First School
Elm Academy Twynham School  
Glenmoor Academy    
Leaf Studio    
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.

Children in households with no recourse to public funds (from 19 April 2022)

Families with an irregular immigration status have a no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

These groups include, but may not be limited to children of:

  • Zambrano carers
  • families who have no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction
  • a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Chen carers
  • families holding a BN(O) passport
  • spousal visa holders
  • work visa holders
  • student visa holders
  • those with no immigration status.

The government have permanently extended eligibility for free school meals to children from all families with NRPF, subject to the income thresholds as follows:

  • £22,700 per annum for families outside London with one child
  • £31,200 per annum for families within London with one child
  • £26,300 per annum for families outside London with two or more children
  • £34,800 per annum for families within London with two or more children.

To apply for free school meals, you will need to complete an application form that includes a self-declaration form to verify eligibility. Please complete one application form per child.


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

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