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Free school meals

  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  2. Eligibility
  3. How to apply

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Free school meals will still be provided to eligible children.

South Tyneside Council is working hard to make sure children don't go hungry during the school closures.

Schools across the Borough are closed to all pupils, except children of key workers and those identified as vulnerable.

Free school meals continue to be provided to eligible children while schools are closed, to support key workers further and ease the pressure on struggling families.

This includes: 

  • a hot meal wherever possible for those in school
  • distribution of packed lunches
  • in some cases, vouchers, for children who remain at home

If you are newly unemployed or have seen a drop in income as a result of the current situation, you may now be entitled to free school meals for your children, so please check the eligibility information below and apply.

Check your school's website for information

Every school will have their own arrangements in place, so we strongly advise parents to keep checking school websites for information about accessing the free school meals.

Supermarket vouchers

Most schools in South Tyneside will be operating the Government's new supermarket voucher scheme for children who are entitled to free school meals but are not currently attending school. 

Schools will communicate directly with parents. Please visit the school's website for information.

The voucher scheme involves schools giving qualifying parents weekly shopping vouchers, worth £15, to spend in supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus. This can be in the form of an e-code or a gift card, for those without internet access, to be redeemed in participating supermarkets.

The voucher scheme is means-tested, so it does not apply to children who currently get universal free school meals (children in reception, year 1 and year 2). The voucher scheme also does not apply to nursery children.

Parents of children in reception, year 1 and year 2 should check if they are eligible for free school meals, and apply. 


    Children are entitled to receive free school meals if they or their parents or guardians receive any of the benefits below:

    • Universal Credit, provided they have an annual net earned income not exceeding £7,400 (£616.67 per month)
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Job seeker's Allowance
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
    • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
    • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by HMRC
    • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

    If you think you might be eligible for free school meals, submit a claim using the form below.

    The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and, if you are on Universal Credit, that your earnings do not exceed the threshold. If you claim Universal Credit, your earnings will be assessed from up to three of your last Universal Credit assessment periods.

    If you're currently claiming free school meals

    The eligibility criteria for free school meals have recently changed. If you're currently claiming free school meals, but don't meet the new criteria above, your child will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they're in on 31 March 2022.

    How to apply 

    If your child is eligible for free school meals: 

    1. complete the Free school meals application form849.5KB
    2. include proof of benefits
    3. contact your child's school to submit your application form (if you cannot get hold of your child's school, call the Council's Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000)


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