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School Meals

Covid-19 Pandemic – Important Information

Schools re-opened to all children in September 2020, from which time schools should offer Free School Meals to eligible children as usual. However, the dining arrangements or menu offer may be different due to social distancing requirements. The Government has issued guidance for parents on the re-opening of schools in the Autumn term.

We are continuing to process new applications for Free School Meals, including for children starting school in September 2020. Please ensure you read the eligibility criteria below before applying. Please complete the online application form below if you are eligible.  We are not currently accepting applications in hard copy by post. If you are unable to apply online, please call the Free School Meals team on 01872 323298 and a member of the team will call you back to complete the application over the phone. Please make sure your phone will accept calls from a private / withheld number. 

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Your child will be eligible for Free School Meals if he or she attends a maintained Nursery School (Camborne Nursery School or Truro Nursery School) or is on the roll of a school/academy with an integral pre-school class and you meet the eligibility criteria.

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, or school-based nurseries which are not integral to the school/academy, are not eligible for Free School Meals even if parents meet the eligibility criteria. If you are unsure about whether your child is attending a qualifying setting, please check with the setting in the first instance.

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

However, some children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and receiving Universal Infant Free School Meals may have an underlying 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, so it is important to apply for benefits-related Free School Meals if you think your child may be eligible.

Your child will be eligible for benefits-related free school meals if you meet the eligibility criteria.

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

If eligible for Free School Meals, your child will also be eligible for Pupil Premium - additional funding paid to the school to support your child in their learning.

A child is eligible for Free School Meals if their parent/carer (or the child themselves in their own right) receives any of the following benefits:

  • 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) Support
  • Universal Credit - Your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get) as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods

If you are claiming the benefits listed below you are NOT eligible for free school meals, regardless of what other benefits/credits are being claimed

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Contribution-Based Job Seeker's Allowance and/or Contribution-Based Employment and Support Allowance

However, you will be temporarily eligible to claim free school meals if you receive a Working Tax Credit run-on, which is the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

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 and Pupil Premium

We will check your eligibility with HM Revenue and Customs, The Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions.

We will email or write to you to let you know the outcome of your application and, if eligible, the date your child’s Free School Meals will start. We will also notify your child’s school. Please note that we are unable to backdate any claim.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government has temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

These groups are:

  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

These groups are subject to a maximum household income threshold of £28,200 (outside London).

The government has also temporarily extended eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household income threshold due to the fact that these families are not able to work.

For more information on free school meals eligibility if you have no recourse to public funds, please see the guidance at GOV.UK

If you would like to apply for free school meals under this temporary extended eligibility please do not use the application form above. Please email us at schoolmeals@cornwall.gov.uk or call us on 01872 323298.

How long will my application take?

Applications will usually be processed within three working days of receipt. We strive, and frequently achieve, to process applications much quicker. However, in peak periods, such as the start of term, it may take a little longer to process your application.

What happens if my financial circumstances change?

Anyone who has been eligible for Free School Meals at any point since 1 April 2018 will remain eligible throughout the Universal Credit Rollout period, which is scheduled to continue until summer 2023. This will apply even if your earnings increase above the threshold or you cease to claim an eligible benefit during that time. After the Rollout period ends, if you no longer meet the eligibility criteria your child will still remain eligible until they complete their current phase of education at that time (e.g. primary or secondary school).

My child is transferring to secondary school. Do I need to apply again?

No, you do not need to reapply. Children currently entitled to Free School Meals at primary school will automatically have their entitlement transferred to secondary school.

Can I appeal a Free School Meals eligibility decision?

Free School Meals is a statutory benefit for which the criteria are determined by central government. There is therefore no appeal process. However, if you feel that your application was incorrectly refused, we are happy to look at it again and may ask you to provide hard copy evidence of your entitlement. If we are unable to determine your eligibility, we may recommend that you discuss this with the appropriate agencies, e.g. Department for Work and Pensions.

What type of food will be provided for a Free School Meal?

Schools in Cornwall are responsible for arranging their own school meal provision; however, schools are expected to meet the national nutritional standards. Please contact your child’s school for more details of the food that will be provided.

Cornwall Council believes that when children eat better, they achieve better. Whether families are paying for school meals or are entitled to them for free, children are more likely to concentrate in the classroom in the afternoon after eating healthy school lunches in a pleasant environment. This also improves their health and their learning about making better food choices.