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Free school meals

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting the way we deliver the service.

Support for children who receive free school meals

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

These groups are:

  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

The groups listed above are subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum.

We have also temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household earnings threshold.

If you fall into one of the above categories you can contact us by phone on 0300 123 7039 to make a claim for free school meals. You will be asked to provide evidence in respect of your circumstances and proof of your income in support of your claim. You will be notified by letter if you qualify for free school meals once your claim is assessed.

Do you qualify?

If your child goes to school within the Cheshire West and Chester area, you may be able to claim free school meals. All key stage one pupils will automatically receive them. You need to apply with us if you are receiving one of the benefits listed below as your school can claim additional funding which can help towards equipment and resources.

You will qualify if you are receiving one of the following benefits.

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and have an annual income that does not exceed £16,190
  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four 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)

Do you receive Working Tax credit?

If you or a partner receive Working Tax Credit regardless of income you will not qualify for free school meals.


If you have difficulties claiming online, please contact us by email at or call us on 0300 123 7021 to discuss making a telephone or paper application.

If I qualify, when will my child get free school meals?

If you qualify, the majority of claims are dealt with the same day and your entitlement will start the day after. A letter of entitlement will be issued to you and we will notify the school.

What meals will my child get?

You will be given a menu leaflet on the first week of the autumn term. The menus will be listed as week one, two, three and four and will run in this order. Any questions regarding the menu, please contact your child's school.

Do I need to apply each year?

No, your claim will be renewed automatically each year.

Changes to tell us about

  • you start work and come off benefits
  • your benefit changes
  • you change address
  • your child changes school
  • you have another child starting school for the first time
Report a change in circumstances

Why have my child's free school meals ended?

Your free school meals could have ended for various reasons, such as a change in benefits or a change of address. You can email the benefits team to find out why.

Access for School Administrators

You can use our self service facility to check which of your pupils qualify for free school meals.

Access for your information online (schools only)