Free school meals: school closure information

We know that it's very important, for a number of families, to understand if their children are eligible for free school meals, and what measures are in place while the schools are closed.

See our coronavirus hub: changes to our services for the latest information for families. This includes updates on school closures and free school meals. Please read this before getting in touch with us.

Free school meals


Children in reception, year 1 and year 2 automatically get free school meals. This is called Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM). You don't need to apply for UIFSM, just let your child’s school know.

Children in year 3 and above

Your child may be eligible for free school meals if you are receiving any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (not Working Tax Credit), with an annual income below £16,190
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance, income related
  • Support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act, 1999
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit, with a household income of £7,400 or less (after tax and not including any benefits you get)


Your application will be refused if you're not receiving any of the listed benefits. Please consider this before applying.

You can apply for free school meals online.

Your application will be processed within 15 working days, but it can take longer if you apply in August or September.

We will contact you and the school if your child is entitled.

Change of circumstances

If your child changes school or address, you will need to reapply for free school meals.

Related content

Pupil Premium

Pupil Premium is extra funding schools can claim for children from low income families. GOV.UK has more information about the funding, including how schools should spend it.

Healthy eating in schools

Our School Meals Service provide meals to over 300 schools in Essex. They work with schools to ensure children get served healthy, nutritious and balanced meals.

GOV.UK has more about the standards for school food.

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