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School meals


Find out if your child can get free school meals, how to apply, and understand how to get extra funding for your school.

Pre-school children aged 2, 3 and 4 (not yet in a reception class)

Your child will be eligible for free school meals if they meet the eligibility criteria and attends: 

  • a maintained Nursery School (Camborne Nursery School or Truro Nursery School)
  • the nursery class of a school/academy

To be eligible for a free school meal, your child will need to be attending sessions before and after lunch on that day. 

Pre-school children attending: 

  • private or community pre-schools or nurseries
  • school-based pre-schools which are not integral to the school/academy

are not eligible for free school meals, even if parents meet the eligibility criteria. If you're not sure what type of setting your child attends, please check with the staff. 

Children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 

All Key Stage 1 (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) pupils are entitled to receive a free school meal. This is part of the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) initiative and regardless of what benefits are being claimed. 

However, some children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 may also have an entitlement to benefits-related Free School Meals. Children in this group are also eligible for Pupil Premium – additional funding paid to the school to support your child in their learning. It is important to apply for benefits-related Free School Meals if you think your child may be eligible. This is so that your child’s school can receive this funding.

Your child will be eligible for benefits-related Free School Meals if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Children in Year 3 and above 

Your child may be eligible for benefits-related free school meals if you, or the child themselves, meet the eligibility criteria. 

If eligible for Free School Meals, your child will also be eligible for pupil premium.  This is additional funding paid to the school to support your child in their learning.

Free school meals eligibility criteria if you receive benefits

A child is eligible for free school meals if their parent/carer (or the child themselves) receives any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods).
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Job Seekers' Allowance (Income-Based) and equal based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA-IR) and equal based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) with an annual income of less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Guarantee Element of Pension Credit (GPC)
  • Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (IAA) Supports

There are different eligibility criteria for families who are not entitled to benefits (NRPF - No Recourse to Public Funds)

Free School Meal transitional protections 

The benefit related free school meal (FSM) protections policy was introduced in 2018.  It was introduced to protect those eligible for benefit related FSM from becoming ineligible while Universal Credit (UC) is being rolled out.  This was originally set to last until March 2022 and was subsequently extended to March 2023. 

The end date for protections has now been extended further until March 2025.  This is when we expect UC roll-out to be complete for most cohorts.

This means that a pupil who was benefit related FSM eligible on 1 April 2018, or who has become eligible under the benefits/low-earnings criteria since then, will continue to receive free meals, even if their household income exceeds the eligibility threshold, up until March 2025 and then until the end of their phase of education. 

Apply for Free School Meals

You can apply for Free School Meals and Pupil Premium online. 

Please ensure you have read the important information on this page before applying

Apply for free school meals

Household Support Fund

The Government has extended the Household Support Fund for 6 months to cover the period up to 30 September 2024. The entitlement criteria for the Household Support Fund is changing.

To be entitled to a payment from the Household Support Fund in 2024, you must:

  • be responsible for at least one child, and
  • and on 3 June 2024 either:
    • be entitled to Council Tax Support or
    • have been placed in emergency accommodation by the Council

You will receive £80 per child.

If you are already in receipt of Council Tax Support, you don’t have to do anything else. You will receive your payment automatically.

To find out if you are eligible for Council Tax Support, you can check using the Government’s benefit calculator.

To make a claim for Council Tax Support

Complete the Council Tax online form

Applications must have been made by 31 May 2024 at the latest.

Why have we made this change?

Entitlement to Free school meals has been protected since 2018.

Parents of children and young people who are entitled to free school meals aren’t always on a low income. By using our Council Tax Support data, we can ensure that the Household Support Fund is given to parents / carers who:

  • currently have a low income,  and
  • are struggling with the increased cost of living

It also enables us to help families with children and young people who are not of school age.

School meal vouchers during school holidays

Since Summer 2020 the government has not funded schools to provide free school meals vouchers during school holiday periods.

Instead many local authorities, including Cornwall Council, used funding received through a number of government Covid recovery grants to enable schools to provide food vouchers for children during school holidays.

The free school meals holiday voucher scheme was designed to provide a response during the pandemic. The scheme has now closed and free meals will only be provided during term time, as was the case pre-pandemic.

There will therefore be no vouchers provided during school holidays.

Time2Move Holiday Programme

The Time2Move Holiday Programme will offer fun physical activities, games and wider activities plus a meal for all children. 

Find out more about Time2Move

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