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Free school meals

If your child goes to school within the Cheshire West and Chester area, is up to the age of 16 or goes to a school sixth form, you may be able to claim free schools meals for them. If your child attends a college you can contact the college directly to make an application.

Free school meals are not usually available for children who go to independent (private) schools.  

Where to find help


Do I qualify for free school meals

You may qualify if you are a parent, guardian or carer and receive one of the following:

  • Income Support (IS) or you are a pupil receiving the benefit in your own right
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; or
  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income (as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) 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
  • Children who get any of the above benefits in their own right (ie they get benefits payments directly, instead of through a parent or guardian) can also get free school meals.

You can also claim if you are an asylum seeker.

Universal infant free school meals

From September 2014 all infants (key stage 1 - reception, year one and two) started to receive a free, hot, two-course meal every school day. This was introduced to save over £400 per child, per year. If you receive one of the above qualifying benefits you still need to claim from us.  This is so that your child is counted for extra money for their school (the pupil premium).

If you don't get a qualifying income, your child will still get free meals if they are in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2. You don't need to claim from us. Please contact your child's school if you would like more details.

The menus

Parents are given a primary menu leaflet on the first week of the autumn term; the chosen menus for each school are given as an insert to parents. The menus will be indentified as week one, two, three and four and will run in this order.

How we notify you and the school that you are entitled

If successful, your claim should be processed the same day. A letter of entitlement will be issued to you. We will notify the school of each child on the morning following the day the claim was processed.

Claims cannot be backdated. Your claim will be renewed automatically, as they are periodically reviewed.

Changes to notify us about

You should notify the Local Authority or school if:

  • 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

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