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Free school meals

Last updated 27 March 2014

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.

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.

Healthy eating

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.

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:

  • 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)
  • Working Tax Credit for four weeks after your employment finishes
  • 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

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,you should 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 
  • Visiting our Customer Service Centre:at 137 Hoe Street, Walthamstow. E17 4RT. Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm.
  • Visiting one of the following libraries:
    - Leytonstone 6 Church Lane, Leytonstone E11 1HG
    - 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.

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.

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See also

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