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Free school meals

How to apply 

If your child is eligible for free school meals: 

  1. complete the 

    Document cannot be found

  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

Your child will be able to get free school meals if they're in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

If your child is eligible for free school meals (using the eligibility criteria below), please still apply because otherwise your child's school could lose funding.

Free school meals for primary and secondary school children

The eligibility criteria for free school meals have changed. 

What are the new eligibility criteria?

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 above, or you can get a form from your school.

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 are eligible, your school will be notified. Your child will receive free school meals and the school will receive extra funding.

If you're currently claiming free school meals

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

How free school meals work in 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 cashless computer will credit £2.20, the price of a two-course meal,or Meal Deal on each pupil's account. 

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 £2.20. 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 need any further information, please speak to a member of school staff, or call the Council Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000 or email

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Find out about our wide range of services for children and families. We want to build safer and stronger families, provide increased opportunities for enterprise learning and skills within healthier communities.

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