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Free School Meals

We believe that school meals represent the best option in terms of contributing to a healthy diet.  This is by comparison to other sources of food available to children for their midday meal such as a packed lunch. If your child attends school full time and you are claiming Child Benefit for them you may be able to apply for free school meals.

You can apply for free school meals up to two months before your child starts school.  Please do not apply more than two months before your child starts school or you will have to reapply later.

Who is eligible for free school meals?

Free school meals are a statutory benefit.  This means if you are receiving one of the following, your child will have the right to a free school meal.

  • Income Support

  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance

  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Child Tax Credit and your annual income is below £16,190 (as worked out by HM Revenue & Customs).  But you are not entitled to free school meals if you also receive Working Tax Credit (except if it is Working Tax Credit for a 4week ‘run on’ period only).

  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit

  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

Pupils are also entitled to claim free school meals in their own right if they are in receipt of:

  • Income Support

  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance

  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

If you are not sure whether you have the right to free school meals, please contact us on 0113 2709503.

How do I apply?

A request has to be made before the Council can provide free school meals.  Normally, the parent or guardian of the child makes the request.

If you think you have the right to free school meals you can telephone the Free School Meals team on 0113 224404 who will be able to give you more information.  If you prefer, you can speak to an advisor at your local One Stop Shop.

You can use this link on the Leeds City Council website and this will show you where your nearest one stop shop is:

What happens next?

Once you have made a request for free school meals, we aim to deal with your request within 3 working days. We will check your entitlement to free school meals using the Department of Education's Eligibility Checking Service. 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 request 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 request to let them know that your child can start having free school meals.

You do not have to reapply for 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. The Council will write to you at that time to confirm that your child will continue to receive free school meals.

What happens if my circumstances change?

If you have a change in your circumstances you must let us know straight away as it may affect your entitlement to free school meals. The things you must tell us about are:

  • If you stop receiving Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers 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

  • A younger sibling starts school or Nursery

  • Your child changes school

  • You change address


Normally, the earliest date your free school meals can start is the date we receive your request.  But, if you have a qualifying benefit backdated, for example, you win an appeal for Income Support, we will refund any school meals you have paid for from the date you qualified for the benefit.  We will also refund any school meals you have paid for between the date of your request and the date your child starts receiving free school meals.

What other benefits can I get by claiming 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 to pay for school trips.