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If you are in receipt of certain benefits your child may be entitled to free school meals, saving you up to £470 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 £470 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 meal worth approximately £2.45 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.


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

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:

  • Cambridgeshire holiday voucher scheme
  • Additional support for vulnerable families and individuals

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

Cambridgeshire Holiday Voucher Scheme (CHVS)

Cambridgeshire County Council is continuing to run its holiday voucher scheme until the Summer holidays July/August 2024 using the Household Support Fund from the Department of Work and Pensions and the additional funding provided by the Council following its budget meeting in February 2024.

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 19 July 2024. If you have already completed a successful free school meal application, you will receive two food vouchers, each for £37.50, one by the end of the day on Saturday 20 July and the other by the end of the day Saturday 10 August. They will be sent to you directly by email or text.

Any children who become eligible between 20 July 2024 and 31 August 2024 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

Free school meals for families who have no recourse to public funds

The government has announced that they have included the following groups of children for FSM entitlement, who ordinarily would not have recourse to public funds (NRPF), whose gross household income is no more than £26,300 pa. 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 criteria 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 the new criteria, please contact the Education Welfare Benefits team at 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
PO Box 761
Box No ALC2606
PE29 9QR

Tel: 01223 703 200