Important information regarding the provision of free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown
National advice on the provision of free school meals for children during the coronavirus lockdown is expected to be announced by the Department for Education this week.
The majority of Schools in Hackney have set up systems to provide meal vouchers or cards for children eligible for a free school meal. Some schools are providing a free school meal for collection from the school. All schools are working hard to reduce social contact when distributing vouchers or meals.
Until the national scheme is launched, schools not distributing meals themselves are using online supermarket vouchers and gift cards. These are often distributed using education text messaging services to reduce social contact.
Hackney Council has recommended valuing vouchers at £12 per week for primary pupils and £14 per week for secondary pupils. The national voucher scheme is expected to be around this level or higher.
Please contact your school if you have any questions about the local arrangements for your school.
Please also be aware of a message from the Department for Education who have warned parents to be wary of scam emails, for example stating that ‘As schools are closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported’. This is a scam email - do not respond, and delete immediately.
Eligibility for free school meals
Reception class, Year 1, and Year 2
All children starting school in the reception class, Year 1, or Year 2 will get a free meal at school regardless of income. This includes academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision as well as maintained schools.
However, even if your child is in one of these year groups we still need you to apply for free meals if you are receiving benefits. This will allow your school to claim important extra funding that will benefit your child.
Schools get extra funding, known as the ‘Pupil Premium’, for every child registered as eligible for a free school meal if their parents are receiving benefits. Schools use this money for activities such as art therapy, booster classes, educational trips, and after school clubs.
School nursery, junior classes in Years 3 to 6, and secondary school
Parents of children attending school nursery, junior classes in Years 3 to 6, or at secondary school in Hackney will have to pay for school meals, unless they are receiving benefits.
To qualify, your child must be in school and you must be receiving one of the following benefits:
- Income support
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- NASS support
- Guarantee element of State Pension
- 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 for the four weeks after employment ends
- Universal Credit, provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400
A child over 16 getting any of these benefits is also eligible to receive free school meals.
Asylum seekers can apply for free school meals if they have a NASS number.
How to apply
Use the button below to apply and confirm your child's eligibility for free school meals.
You only need to apply once for each child. If you are not eligible now we will continue to check your details for future entitlement against information held by the Department for Education.
If you are found eligible we will send a notification to the school.
If your child attends a school in another borough, you will have to make enquiries at the school to find out how you apply for free school meals.