Free school meals
On this page:
- Who can get free school meals?
- Free school meals - infants
- Free school meals - nursery
- Free school meals - older children
- How to apply
- Apply for free school meals online to get an instant decision
- How will I know when my child can have free school meals?
- What if my circumstances change?
- School administrators
- Contact details
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)
- 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
If you’re a parent or carer and receive Working Tax Credit you’re disqualified from claiming free school meals no matter what your income is.
We’ll only ask you to provide evidence of your income if we’re unable to get confirmation ourselves.
If your child goes to school outside of Waltham Forest, you should make a claim to that Borough.
Free school meals - infants
All children in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 in state-funded schools are entitled to free school meals, regardless of whether their families get qualifying benefits or not.
You can now apply online
Free school meals - nursery
Children in nursery can only get free school meals if they’re there for the whole day. If your child does mornings or afternoons only, they’re not entitled to free school meals.
Free school meals - older children
You’ll be entitled to claim free school meals if your child is aged 16 - 18 and attending a further education funded institution; for example schools with Sixth forms, Academies, Free schools, etc.
If your child is aged 16 - 18 and attends a College or Sixth Form College, you’ll need to apply directly to the College or Sixth Form College.
If your child goes to a school outside of Waltham Forest you should make a claim to that borough.
How to apply
If you’re entitled, you will be able to print out proof of entitlement to take to your child's school straightaway.
At a LibraryPlus
You can get help making a claim and drop off evidence at the libraries below Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. We can check if you’re entitled, and if so, we can give you a letter to take to the school.
If we can't decide on your application there and then, we’ll 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.
Making an online claim for Free School Meals at:
- North Chingford Library: The Green, Chingford, E4 7EN
- Walthamstow Library: High Street, Walthamstow, E17 7JN
- Leyton Library: High Road Leyton, E10 5QH
Leytonstone Library: 6 Church Lane, Leytonstone, London E11 1HG
When you claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support
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’ll check if your child is entitled to free school meals and write to you to let you know our decision. If you’re entitled to free school meals, we’ll also tell your child's school.
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.
Administrators in schools can check pupil entitlements to free school meals online.
Free School Meals Service
London Borough of Waltham Forest PO Box 856
020 8496 8506/8505
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Who can get free school meals?
- Can I get free school meals if I have a child over 16?
- What is an eligible institution?