Free school meals

How to apply 

If your child is eligible for free school meals: 

  1. complete the Free school meals application form142.92KB
  2. include proof of benefits
  3. return to your child's school

You can also get an application form at your child's school.

Free school meals for infants

All infants in, or entering, reception, year one and year two will get free school meals. 

If your child is, or will be, in these years, please do not send dinner money into schools. 

If your child is eligible for free school meals you still need to apply for this because otherwise your child's school could lose funding.

Free school meals for primary and secondary school children

Your child is entitled to free school meals if you get one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseekers' Allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (this benefit was introduced on 27 October 2008)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • income does not exceed £16,190 (if you are entitled to Working Tax Credit you will NOT be eligible for free school meals)
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit

You must provide proof of entitlement to one of these benefits. 

Types of proof include:

  • Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers' Allowance or Income-Related ESA - Recent documentation from the Benefits Agency confirming your current entitlement, including your National Insurance number
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 - Copy of Identity Card issued
  • Guaranteed Element of Pension Credit - Recent documentation from the Benefits Agency confirming current entitlement including your National Insurance number

How free school meals work

Secondary schools:

Most secondary schools in South Tyneside operate a cashless payment systems for school lunches. This is exactly the same for students who are eligible for a free meal.

Every day the computer will credit £2.10, the price of a two-course meal, on each pupil's account. 

If a meal is not taken, the £2.10 is removed at the end of the day (the free meal entitlement is only available at lunchtime).

Pupils eligible for free school meals can put extra value onto their accounts by cash or cheque if they wish to buy items above the value of £2.10. If the cash is not spent it will remain on the pupil's account. Find out more about the cashless system at Paying for secondary school meals.

More information

If you have any questions please call the Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000 or email

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