Universal Infant Free School Meals
From September 2014, every child in Early Years Foundation Stage (Reception), Year 1 and Year 2, who attend a state funded school are offered a free school lunch. This is known as 'Universal Infant Free School Meals'. The cost of the school meal is met by the government and children are welcome to stay and enjoy an award winning, nutritious hot meal with their friends.
This is offered as part of a Government initiative which aims to ensure that all children can benefit from a hot meal at lunchtime. Studies show that benefits include;
- A healthy diet
- Improved concentration in the afternoons
- Better behaviour and atmosphere in school as a result of all pupils eating together every day
- A saving to parents of up to £400 a year for each child
If your child has a medical need for a special diet, please see the school office, prior to your child starting school with the details of the diet along with a doctor’s letter. This is not necessary for vegetarian, vegan or halal meat options
There is no charge for meals, however our school has a booking system and school meals are booked a month in advance using the School Meals Booking Form. See 'How to Book School Meals'
Free School Meal Benefits & Pupil Premium
It is very easy to confuse 'free school meals' and 'universal infant free school meals'. If you think you would qualify for free school meals because of your income or circumstances, it is essential you still apply for this in the usual way before your child starts school or if your circumstances change.
Children eligible for free school meals can receive additional financial support from the school to help cover the costs of school trips, milk, school jumpers/cardigans and KS2 music lessons. In addition, the government need to know how many children are entitled to claim free school meals as a state benefit.
The school receives extra funding (Pupil Premium Grant) based on the number of children who are:
- eligible for free school meals currently or during the past 6 years
- from service families
- in care of the Local Authority or adopted from care
This money is used in a variety of ways to help support these individual pupils and the whole school community.
It is really important that if your child is ever eligible for free school meals, however briefly, you should claim. Children may be eligible if their parents/carers are receiving:
- Universal Credit, provided annual net earned income does not exceed £7,400 (£616.67 per month)
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-based Employment & Support Allowance
- Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and annual gross income is £16,190 or less)
- Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying)
Our Learning Mentor, Mrs deScossa, has further details on the benefits available for those pupils that qualify.
Free School Meals Application Process
North Somerset Council provides an online application service for free school meals. Parents are able to apply online, at home or in school, and get an instant result. The system generates a letter that parents can print off and give to the school to show eligibility.
Parents will need to reapply 3 times per year, during the Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, and eligibility will last for up to two half-terms.
Anyone who applies mid-term will be able to show schools their eligibility letter. Eligibility starts from the date on the letter, and stops at the end of that period.
The online application system can be found here: www.n-somerset.gov.uk/fsm
The eligibility criteria for free school meals have been changed following the introduction of Universal Credit. If you're currently claiming free school meals, but don't meet the new criteria, your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit rollout period. The rollout period is currently scheduled to end in March 2022.
We would encourage anyone who thinks they may be entitled to Free School Meals, on the basis of their income, to apply even if their child receives universal infant free school meals. The online system takes a few minutes to do and we can help in school if you need any assistance.