Eligibility for free school meals
The government sets the eligibility criteria for free meals. To find out more, visit Free school meals | East Sussex County Council.
Children must attend school both before and after the lunch period to receive a free meal.
Some pupils who are over 16 may receive a qualifying benefit in their own right. If so, they will qualify to claim free school meals.
Refugee families are not automatically eligible and should apply.
Cost of a free school meal
The price of a meal is £2.60 for primary and £2.74 for secondary (as of 30 January 2023). The price is reviewed annually.
Universal Credit transitional arrangements
The government expects to complete the Universal Credit rollout in March 2025. The following pupils were protected against losing their free school meals:
- Any pupil eligible for free school meals before 1 April 2018 will continue to receive them until March 2025. This includes families who are no longer eligible.
- Any pupil eligible for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will continue to receive them until March 2025.
- After March 2025, children of any claimants that no longer qualify will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (primary or secondary).
What about younger siblings?
Protection of school meal eligibility applies to individual children, rather than families.
This means that younger children will not qualify for free school meals simply because their older sibling does. This would be unfair on children without older siblings.
The younger child must be eligible when the application is made.
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