Free school meals

Before you apply for free school meals you must read all the information on this page.

Am I entitled to free school meals for my child?

Your child will be eligible for free school meals if you are receiving one of the following benefits or support:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and your annual income is below £16,190 (as worked out by HM Revenue & Customs)
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • parents receiving Working Tax Credit for four weeks after their employment finishes are entitled to free school meals during that period.  This also applies to parents who start working less than 16 hours per week

You are NOT entitled to free school meals if:

  • you receive Working Tax Credit except where the 'four week run-on' applies as described above

Pupils are also entitled to claim free school meals in their own right if they are in receipt of any of the above benefits.

Nursery: to get free school meals your child must attend school both before and after the lunch period.

Conisbrough Ivanhoe Primary Academy: deal with their own free school meal applications. So, if your child is a pupil there; you should contact the school direct.

Children attending schools in another authority: for example, Rotherham, but you live in Doncaster; then you should apply to that Authority.

Applying for free school meals

Even if your child does not want free school meals, you should still make a request.  This is because you may be entitled to other benefits for your child, for example, free school milk for children under seven, or help towards board and lodging charges for school trips.

Online application

If you meet the criteria, an online request, normally by the parent or guardian of the child, has to be made before the council can provide free school meals. 

Please note: you will have to pay for any school meals your child has before we receive your application. But see the Universal infant free school meals section below.

You can apply for free school meals up to a maximum of two months before your child starts school.

Universal infant free school meals

From September 2014, all infant age pupils (reception, year 1 and year 2) are entitled to receive a free school meal.  This includes academies and free schools.

Although infant children will automatically receive a free meal, we are asking families who are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits above, to complete an on line application. So we can check if the school is entitled to receive the Pupil Premium for your child.

This is a grant provided by the government for every child that has the right to a free school meal.  This year it is £1,300 per eligible pupil and the money is used to support individual pupils and the whole school community.

Even if you don’t want your child to receive a free school meal we would ask you to apply, so that your child’s school receives as much funding as possible. 

For further information please see the document below:  

Universal Infant Free School Meals
Download (185KB)

What happens when we receive your application

Once you have applied for free school meals,

  • we aim to deal with your request within 2 working days
  • when you apply online, your entitlement to free school meals will be checked automatically as part of the online process
  • in most cases this is all we need but, if we are unable to confirm your entitlement using this service, we will contact you for more information
  • once we have dealt with your application we will send you a letter confirming your entitlement to free school meals
  • we will also send an email to your child's school the morning after we process your application to let them know that your child can start having free school meals

As long as your circumstances stay the same, we will automatically renew your right to free school meals in July each year. We will write to you at that time to confirm that your children will continue to receive free school meals.

Changes to your application

What happens if my circumstances change?

You must let us know straight away, as it may affect your entitlement to free school meals, if:

  • you stop receiving Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • HMRC reviews your claim for Child Tax Credit/Working Tax Credit
  • you stop receiving support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • a child leaves your home
  • a child comes to live with you
  • your child changes school
  • you change address


Normally, the earliest date your free school meals can start is the date we receive your request.  You can ask the school for a refund for any school meals you have paid for between the date of your request and the date your child starts receiving free school meals.

Useful links

School uniform


Last updated: 01 February 2018 09:52:47