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Free school meals

Last updated 18 October 2014

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.

Free school meals - infants

From September 2014, all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals. This includes infant pupils in maintained infant and primary schools, free schools, academies, schools for pupils with special educational needs and pupil referral units.

Extra funding for your child's education

The pupil premium is additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise the achievement level of pupils. This means your child's school will receive an additional £1,300 every year for six years from the Government to support their education if your child would have been entitled to free school meals because of your family income. This money must be spent on your child, but it is for the school to decide how it is spent. The school's website will provide information on how the school chooses to use the premium to improve achievement.

We are asking all parents and carers of children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 whose children attend school in Waltham Forest to complete a universal infant free school meals form and return it to their child's school. We will then be able to confirm throughout the year whether the school is entitled to the additional pupil premium funding for your child.

Universal Infant Free School Meals form.

Children in nursery

Children in nursery can only get free school meals if they are there for the whole day. If your child does mornings or afternoons only, they are not entitled to free school meals. To get free school meals you must make an application and be in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits.

Free school meals - for older children

Free school meals for older children are provided if their families are in receipt of  benefits such as Income Support or Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance and they go to a school in Waltham Forest.

From September 2014, you will also be entitled to claim for free school meals if your child is aged 16 - 18 and attending a further education funded institution, e.g. Colleges, Academies, Free schools, etc.

If your child goes to a school outside of Waltham Forest you should make a claim to that borough.

See frequently asked questions at the bottom of the page for more information.

Apply online to 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 your child goes to a school outside of Waltham Forest you should make a claim to that borough.

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 
  • Visiting our Customer Service Centre: at 137 Hoe Street, Walthamstow. E17 4RT. Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm.
  • Visiting one of the following libraries:
    - North Chingford The Green, Chingford E4 7EN
    - Walthamstow High Street, Walthamstow E17 7JN
    - Leyton - High Road, Leyton E10 5QH

You can only drop off evidence and get help making a claim at the libraries Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Please note: Leytonstone Library is closed 20 October to September 2015 for refurbishment.

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 yet been decided.

What if my circumstances change?

You must tell the Benefits Service of any changes that might affect your entitlement.

Some of these 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.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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See also

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