Free school meals

All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are entitled to a hot free school meal. However, if your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 and you receive one of the listed qualifying benefits, you should make an application for free school meals as the school your child attends will receive extra funding. 

If your child is in Year 3 or above, and you receive one of the listed qualifying benefits, you should make an application for free school meals. 

Please note that local authorities are only able to process free school meals registrations based on the Government's criteria for eligibility.  Please check the GOV.UK website for current eligibility as we can only work to their guidelines. 

Free schools meals during holidays

Since October 2021, Redbridge Council has funded 500,000 free school meals through the holidays to help make sure no child goes hungry.

During half term in October 2022, eligible families of 10,500 pupils were awarded a £15 voucher, they will be entitled to £30 per pupil to cover the two-week Christmas holiday, and £15 per pupil for the February half term week and can use the vouchers in their chosen supermarket. Schools will provide the information needed directly to the council for vouchers to be issued to families.

The council has set aside £1.87m funding from the Household Support Fund to cover the extension of school meals support to help local families during the rising cost of living. Unfortunately, the government has indicated, it will stop the funding used to provide free school meals during holidays from April 2023.

Qualifying benefits for free school meals  

  • 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 Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190) - Working Tax Credit is a disqualifying benefit regardless of your household income - this means that you would not be entitled to Free School Meals whilst in receipt of Working Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)

Young benefit claimants application for free school meals

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals. 

How to register for free school meals online 

The information provided allows for an automated check via the Eligibility Checking Service, if the result is inconclusive then we will email you to request proof of benefit.

If your child is entitled, we will email you and the school to inform you of the start date entitlement.  

All communication regarding Free School Meals is done via email only. 

Apply for free school meals