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How to Apply for Free School Meals

This page explains how to check whether your child qualifies for free school meals. Find out how to apply through the local authority in England or Wales.

Note: The DfE announced vouchers, food, or meals for children who qualify for free school meals but are unable to attend school due to coronavirus measures.

FREE SCHOOL MEALS: Getting a nutritious lunch at school is one of the popular benefits for families with school-age children.

As a rule, children get automatic access to a free lunch in school at state schools in year one and year two in England.

Your local council will inform you how to apply if this family benefit is available for your child.

The government search facility means you can check online. Use it to find out if your child has entitlement to get free school meals around the United Kingdom.

Note: Follow the link to see whether your child can apply for free school meals in England or Wales. There is a different process if you are applying for school lunches in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

List of Qualifying Benefits

If you are claiming any of the following benefits your child may also be eligible for free school meals.

Some children may get a direct payment for these benefits e.g. not through a parent or a guardian. In this case, they are also entitled to get free school meals.

Note: This entitlement would also apply if your child is under the compulsory age to start school and in full time education.

Free School Meals for Infants in England

Your infant will also qualify for free school meals if they are attending:

  • Reception class
  • Year 1
  • Year 2

Note: You should inform your local authority if you receive any of the above benefits. If so, your child’s school can often get extra funding.

How to Apply for Free School Meals in the United Kingdom