Free school meals
Free school meals are provided for children whose families are in receipt of benefits such as income support or income based job seeker's allowance.
If you are entitled, you will be able to print out proof of entitlement to take to your child's school straightaway.
If your child goes to a school outside of Waltham Forest, you should make a claim to that borough.
School meals are a great way to ensure your child is eating a healthy and well-balanced meal during the school day.
Every school meal served meets the government's rigorous nutritional standards - good to know as evidence suggests that eating well improves a child's concentration and learning.
For more information please read the free school meal leaflet (609KB PDF file).
Who can get free school meals?
Your child will be entitled to free school meals if they go to school in Waltham Forest, and you or your partner get one of the following incomes:
- Income Support
- Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- The Guarantee Credit element of State Pension Credit
- Support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS)
- Support from the local authority Social Services Asylum Team (SSAT)
- Child Tax Credit, provided that:
- you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit (but see below), and
- your annual income (as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) is £16,190 or less
- Working Tax Credit for four weeks after your employment finishes
We will only ask you to provide evidence of your income if we are unable to get confirmation ourselves.
If your child goes to school outside of Waltham Forest, please make a claim to that borough.
In some rare cases, pupils can apply for free school meals on their own behalf. Please contact us if you think this may apply to you.
How to apply
To get free school meals, you must first make an application. You can do this in any of the following ways:
- Filling in a free school meals online application form
- Downloading and filling in the free school meals application form (200KB Word doc) and returning it to our office
- Calling us on 020 8496 8550 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. We can then take your application over the phone
Visiting one of the following libraries:
- Leyton High Road, Leyton E10 5QH
- Leytonstone 6 Church Lane, Leytonstone E11 1HG
- North Chingford The Green, Chingford E4 7EN
- Walthamstow High Street, Walthamstow E17 7JN
Our libraries are open: Monday to Friday: 9am to 7pm, Saturday: 9am to 6pm, Sunday: 12pm to 4pm. (Walthamstow library is open from 10am on Sundays).
Visiting our Customer Service Centre:
- 137 Hoe Street, Walthamstow. E17 4RT. Opening times: Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 6pm, Saturday: 9am to 1pm.
You can also apply for free school meals when you claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support. Just make sure you answer the free school meal questions when filling in the form.
How will I know when my child can have free school meals?
After we receive your application, we will check if your child is entitled to free school meals. We will then write to you to let you know our decision. If you are entitled to free school meals, we will also tell your child's school.
Is there a quicker way to find out?
Apply online and get an instant decision! If you are entitled, you will be able to print out proof of entitlement to take to your child's school straightaway.
If you visit Walthamstow Customer Service Centre or one of the libraries listed above we can check if you are entitled, and:
- if you are entitled, we can give you a letter to take to the school
- if we can't decide on your application there and then, we will give you a "holding letter" to take to the school. This letter will say that you have made an application but it hasn't been decided yet.
What if my circumstances change?
You must tell the Benefits Service of any changes that might affect your entitlement.
Some of the changes are:
- Your Tax Credit changes
- You start work
- You change address
- Your child changes school
- You stop getting benefits or your benefits change.
Use the online form to report a change in your circumstances if you are claiming benefit.