Free school meals

Free holiday provision during the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays

Children receiving benefit related free school meals can access free holiday provision during the holidays. 

find out how your child can access free holiday provision through the Holiday, Activities and Food (HAF) programme

There are two schemes for free school meals:

  • universal infant free school meals for all children in reception year, year 1 and year 2 – you don’t need to apply as they’re automatically given at the school
  • free school meals for people on qualifying benefits – you’ll need to apply for these

If you claim qualifying benefits and your child is entitled to universal infant school meals, you should still apply for free school meals so:

  • you’re eligible for other financial assistance for items such as school trips
  • the school can receive funding for the free school meals

Qualifying benefits for free school meals

Your child will be entitled to free school meals if you get any of these benefits:

  • income support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit with annual take home pay/met earnings below £7,400 (which equals £616.67 per month) benefits not included

How to apply

Free school meals entitlement is for the child, not the family, so you will need to apply for each child when they start school.

If your child is starting primary school in September, you should apply during the summer holidays as we cannot deal with your application earlier. Applying too early could result in your application being removed.

If your child was eligible to free school meals in another council area, and now due to start at a North Somerset school. You will need to apply on our system so we can transfer your eligibility.

You will need your National insurance number to apply.

Please note you will need to contact the school directly for information on how free school meals are accessed at each site.

If your application isn’t successful

If your application isn’t successful, check your National Insurance number and try again. If this doesn’t work, select the ‘referral’ button to let us know what benefits you are on and we’ll ask you for evidence.

When to reapply

Due to the roll-out of Universal Credit, all pupils who are currently eligible for free school meals will be protected until the end of the primary, secondary or sixth form school they are currently in as of March 2025.

This means:

  • If your child stays in the same school, you don’t need to do anything at this time. Your free school meals will continue until the end of Year 6 for Primary Schools and the end of Year 11 for Secondary Schools. Please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.
  • If your child moves from primary to secondary school in North Somerset in September 2024, you don’t need to do anything. Your free school meals will continue and we will update the new school – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement. The exception is if your child moves from a non-North Somerset school to a North Somerset school, then you will need to apply on our free school meals system so we can transfer your eligibility.
  • If your child moves school during the school year, please email us and we will update your free school meals record for you – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.

Children do not receive free school meals in college.

If your child has free school meals at a school outside of North Somerset and they are changing to a North Somerset school, you will need to reapply on our system so we can transfer your eligibility.

We will update this page in January 2025 to give further details on the government changes to free school meals that are due in April 2025.

free school meals