Introduction

If you are in receipt of certain benefits your child may be entitled to free school meals, saving you up to £450 per year per child. This scheme is available for school-age children and to post-16 students at a school with a sixth form or college.

Did you know?

  • Families who are currently paying for school meals will save around £450 a year for each primary school child if they are entitled to free school meals.
  • Many schools have systems which mean it is impossible for other pupils to know who is receiving free school meals.
  • School children who are eligible for free school meals are entitled to a two-course meal worth approximately £2.30 for primary and £2.35 for secondary each day. 
  • When you apply for free school meals, you will also allow your child's school to receive Pupil Premium, which is extra money to support children from families on lower incomes.
  • If your child is in receipt of universal infant free school meals (where your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2), we recommend you apply if you believe you may be eligible for free school meals, because the protection will continue beyond Year 2.
  • Secondary school children who are entitled to free school meals might also qualify for help with school transport costs.
  • If you also have a 3 or 4 year old child who is in a free childcare place, they may also be eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium.

Find out more by reading the information guide relevant to you below.

Free School Meals Explained - April 2019106KBpdf
Size: 106KBFile format: pdf
Parents Guide v2 April 201843KBpdf
Parents' guide to eligibility for free childcare, early years pupil premium, free school meals, pupil premium, home to school transport and the 16 - 19 bursary scheme.
Size: 43KBFile format: pdf
Information for Parents (Schools) April 201851KBpdf
Information on free school meals, early years funding and pupil premium.
Size: 51KBFile format: pdf
Information for Parents (JUN Schools) August 201861KBpdf
Size: 61KBFile format: pdf
Information for Parents (SEC school transfer) April 201886KBpdf
Size: 86KBFile format: pdf

Eligibility

Your child will get free school meals if you receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit - but no element of Working Tax Credit - and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)) that does not exceed £16,190
  • If you are supported under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit during the four week period immediately after your employment finishes or after you start to work less hours per week
  • Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400 (as from 1 April 2018)

Apply for free school meals

FSM application form 2022-23102KBpdf
Size: 102KBFile format: pdf

Change of circumstances

If your personal circumstances change, such as a change in name or address, please fill in the change of circumstances form below.

Change of Circumstances51KBpdf
Size: 51KBFile format: pdf

Claims process

Your claim will be processed within three working days of receiving a valid application form. If successful, you and your child's school will be informed of your child's entitlement to free school meals.

You will be contacted in writing to confirm when your child's entitlement has started. Eligibility will continue to be checked via our secure Electronic Checking System.

Please note: If you claim Universal Credit, your earnings will be assessed from up to three of your last Universal Credit assessment periods. This process may take longer to confirm your eligibility.

Household Support Fund

Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are continuing to work with other organisations to support many people whose lives continue to be disrupted because of COVID-19.

This support is being offered in two ways:

  • Direct Food voucher scheme
  • Additional support for vulnerable families and individuals

Please visit the relevant website for detailed information, FAQs, and amount of funding provided.

How to get your direct food vouchers

This scheme is for children registered at school and Elective Home Education who are registered for income-related Free School Meals on or before 3 February 2022. If you have already completed a successful free school meal application, a food voucher will be sent to you directly by email or text on 11 February 2022.

Any children who become eligible between 3 February 2022 and 18 February 2022 will receive a voucher and this will be sent as and when we are notified of your eligibility

If you have not applied, you will need to complete a free schools meals application form above. 

Cambridgeshire Holiday Voucher Scheme (CHVS)

Assistance through Household Support Fund ends on 31 March 2022. However, this has been replaced by a similar scheme for the families in Cambridgeshire for a further year as part of the pandemic recovery, to provide support to families. This new scheme is called ‘Cambridgeshire Holiday Voucher Scheme’ (CHVS).

For the CHVS, it is proposed we will continue to use the same eligibility criteria we used for the Household Support Grant and a supermarket voucher will be allocated to parents/carers whose child/ren meet the following criteria:

  • Funded Childcare and Education for 2-year-olds under the income-based criteria (children aged 2)
  • Early Years Pupil Premium under the income-based criteria (children aged 3 and 4)
  • Free School Meals (children and young people aged 4 to 16)

This scheme is for children registered at schools, settings and Elective Home Education who are registered for income-related Free School Meals on or before 1 April 2022. If you have already completed a successful free school meal application, a food voucher will be sent to you directly by email or text on Friday 1 April.

Any children who become eligible between 1 April and 19 April 2022 will receive a voucher and this will be sent as and when we are notified of your eligibility

If your child is not already in receipt for Free School Meals and you believe that they are eligible, you will need to complete a free schools meals application form above. 

Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme

This is a national scheme and not restricted to Cambridgeshire families as with the CHVS scheme above.

If your child is eligible for Income-related Free School Meals, you can also access free childcare over the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays, subject to availability. Each participating holiday scheme offers a healthy meal, a variety of activities, experiences, sports and the opportunity for children and young people to socialise and have fun. A voucher will be issued by email and/or text prior to each holiday to the nominated parent or carer. The voucher has no monetary value, it provides an eligibility code for your child to attend for a specific number of hours for no charge at a holiday scheme.

Further information about the programme is available on our website at HAF Programme. If you have any further questions, email HAF@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Temporary extension of Free School Meals for families who have No Recourse to Public Funds

The government have announced that they are temporarily extending FSM entitlement to include the following groups of children, who ordinarily would not have recourse to public funds (NRPF), whose gross household income is no more than £28,200pa. These groups are;

  • Children of Zambrano carers (where the child is a British citizen but their carer is not).
  • Children of families who have a right to remain in the UK under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
  • Children of families supported under Section 17 of Children Act (1989) who are subject to NRPF

The temporary extension also includes children of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. For these children the household income thresholds do not apply.

If you believe your child may qualify under these new temporary criteria, please contact the Education Welfare Benefits team at ewb.fsm@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or call on 01223 703 200 to request an application form.

Contact the Education Welfare Benefits team

You can contact the Council’s Education Welfare Benefits Team for information about applications for free school meals, or benefits which support children financially while at school or college.

Education Welfare Benefits Team
Box Number: ALC2606
New Shire Hall
Emery Crescent
Enterprise Campus
Alconbury Weald
Huntingdon
PE28 4YE

Email: ewb.fsm@cambridgeshire.gov.uk
Tel: 01223 703 200