Apply for free school meals

Important information regarding the provision of free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown

The majority of schools in Hackney have set up systems to provide meal vouchers or cards for children eligible for a free school meal. Some schools are providing a free school meal for collection from the school. All schools are working hard to reduce social contact when distributing vouchers or meals.

Guidance has been issued by the government for a national voucher scheme for free school meal provision where schools are unable to make local arrangements. The value of a free school meal voucher in the national scheme is £15 per week. Local existing arrangements may differ from this amount. Each school will make arrangements for the distribution of the vouchers, if needed, usually by email or text, but if this is not practical for you please contact your school office. More information on the government scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Parents and carers can read about changes to schools and education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This includes information on receiving meals or food vouchers from your school and what to do if you’re newly eligible for free school meals. Government guidance, providing free school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, also includes information on the different types of support available.

Please contact your school if you have any questions about the local arrangements for your school.

New applications for free school meals will still be processed in the same way as before and more details on eligibility for this and how to apply are given below. You do not need to apply if you have previously filled in a paper free school meal application form or applied online for your child.

Some families who have no recourse to public funds may also be eligible for free school meals under a temporary extension to free school meal eligibility. Please contact your school for more information and to apply under this extension.

If you do receive free school meal vouchers, find out more about healthy and easy recipe ideas.

Please also be aware of a message from the Department for Education who have warned parents to be wary of scam emails, for example stating that ‘As schools are closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported’. This is a scam email - do not respond, and delete immediately.

Eligibility for free school meals

Reception class, Year 1, and Year 2

All children starting school in the reception class, Year 1, or Year 2 will get a free meal at school regardless of income. This includes academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision as well as maintained schools.

However, even if your child is in one of these year groups we still need you to apply for free meals if you are receiving benefits. This will allow your school to claim important extra funding that will benefit your child.

Schools get extra funding, known as the ‘Pupil Premium’, for every child registered as eligible for a free school meal if their parents are receiving benefits. Schools use this money for activities such as art therapy, booster classes, educational trips, and after school clubs.

School nursery, junior classes in Years 3 to 6, and secondary school

Parents of children attending school nursery, junior classes in Years 3 to 6, or at secondary school in Hackney will have to pay for school meals, unless they are receiving benefits.

To qualify, your child must be in school and you must be receiving one of the following benefits:

A child over 16 getting any of these benefits is also eligible to receive free school meals.

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers can apply for free school meals if they have a NASS number.

Children with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

Eligibility for free school meals has temporarily been extended to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). This extension of eligibility will end when schools have reopened to all children.

To qualify, you fall within one of the following categories:

  • A Zambrano carer (i.e., a parent/carer who is a resident of a non EEA (European Economic Area) state, but who is required to care for a child in the UK who is a British citizen). You must have an annual household income of less than £7,400 to be eligible.
  • Carers with leave to remain under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - You must have an annual household income of less than £7,400 to be eligible.
  • Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 - children of families receiving support who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction - You must have an annual household income of less than £7,400 to be eligible.

You can find detailed government guidance for the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to NRPF groups on the GOV.UK website. Please contact you school to apply for free school meals under this category.

How to apply

Use the button below to apply and confirm your child's eligibility for free school meals.

You only need to apply once for each child. If you are not eligible now we will continue to check your details for future entitlement against information held by the Department for Education.

If you are found eligible we will send a notification to the school.

If your child attends a school in another borough, you will have to make enquiries at the school to find out how you apply for free school meals.


Pupil Benefits

020 8820 7000
This page was last modified on: 18 Aug 2020