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Apply for free school meals
- You must get one of the qualifying benefits in your own name.
- Your child must go to a government-funded Newcastle school.
- Enter your details carefully and check for typing mistakes.
- Name all your children of school age that you want to claim for.
- Do not re-apply for a child you have applied for before, unless your details have changed. For example, you have changed your name or address.
If your child goes to college full-time or goes to a government-funded school outside Newcastle, speak to the college or school direct about how to apply for free school meals.
Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get one of the qualifying benefits and they are:
- in government-funded education full time up to the age of 19, or
- in a nursery class or nursery school and attending for full days.
You will need to get one of the following benefits:
- 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 and 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 after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.
If your child qualifies for free school meals, they’ll get them until they finish the phase of schooling (first, primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2022. Children attending middle or high schools on 31 March 2022 will get them until they finish Year 11. They’ll get them even if you stop getting the qualifying benefit.
After this date, your child will only continue to get free school meals if you get one of the benefits.
Every child can get free school meals if they’re in a government-funded school and in:
- reception class
- year 1
- year 2
This is a general right regardless of qualifying benefits.
Your child and their school may be able to get extra help if you get one of the qualifying benefits for free school meals. Apply for free school meals so that we can check if your child is eligible for the extra help, even if your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2.
Your child may be able to get a free travel permit to get to school if they get free school meals and walk more than two miles to school.
You may be able to get direct help from your child’s school, such as free or reduced prices for out of school clubs and activities, school trips, music lessons, or school uniform.
Your child’s school may be able to get extra funding to spend on more teachers and support staff to help your child in lessons.
We will write with the outcome of your application within 10 working days. If your child gets free school meals, we will tell you and your child’s school what date they will start.
We check your details using a secure online checking system provided by the Department for Education. This system links with your benefit provider. It does not tell us any information about you or your benefits, just whether the details we entered mean you qualify for free school meals.
If we think the details you gave us on your application may be wrong, for example you made a spelling mistake, we will ask you to check your details again.
If your application is refused but you think you do receive a qualifying benefit, call us to discuss your claim. You may need to send us proof of benefit.
You can't appeal if you do not receive a qualifying benefit. You also can't appeal to ask for your free school meals to start before the date we processed your application (be backdated).
If your application is refused, we will continue to check your details on a weekly basis, unless you tell us to stop. This means we will know if you start to get a qualifying benefit. We will approve your child’s free school meals application and contact you. You do not need to re-apply unless you change your name or move house.
The price of a school meal depends on the age of your child and the school they attend. If your child gets free school meals, you will save about £400 over the school year.
Food served in some schools and academies in England must meet the school food standards so that children have healthy, balanced diets.
The school food standards apply to all maintained schools, and academies that were founded before 2010 and after June 2014. They must provide:
- high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish
- fruit and vegetables
- bread, other cereals and potatoes
There can’t be:
- drinks with added sugar, crisps, chocolate or sweets in school meals and vending machines
- more than 2 portions of deep-fried, battered or breaded food a week
You can read more about school food standards on the School Food Plan website.
We will keep your personal details on our secure computer system and use them to check if your child should get free school meals. They may also be used if you apply for free school travel.
We won’t share your personal details with anyone else. We will only tell your child’s school if your child should get a free school meal.
You can ask for your details to be changed or deleted. This may mean your child stops getting free school meals. We will need to check any new details you give us.
We will keep your details in line with our retention policy. If you have any questions, contact us.
Paper application forms are available from schools. These need to be posted to us, so save the postage and apply online instead.
You can't hand forms in at the civic centre.
Need more information?
These are our contact details if you need help to apply or need to send us proof of benefit.
Phone us on 0191 278 7878. Ask for "Free school meals".
Write to us at:
Newcastle City Council
Admissions and Information Service
Newcastle upon Tyne