Information regarding free school meals

To find out if you are eligible for free school meals please click here.
If you have recently applied for free school meals, please let us know via email to avoid any delays.

Whilst we have no more guidance other than that already issued by the government, please see below some answers from the DfE to questions regarding free school meals at this time.

Can a school still continue to order vouchers directly themselves if they need to provide them from a company not on the list, as the stores on the list are some distance away for some more rural communities?
You can forward the supermarket eGift card to someone else to purchase goods on your behalf if you’re not able to get to the supermarket.

If so, can schools use a mixture of vouchers ordered directly by themselves and ones ordered through Edenred using the new scheme?
We will provide further guidance shortly on how we will compensate schools who incur additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Can the vouchers be used by parents to pay for an online order (the statement seems to imply you can but the guidance talks about using them in a shop and doesn’t mention online).
The voucher can be used online for some supermarkets, please refer to the supermarket’s T&Cs for additional detail on this.

The school has keyworker pupils who are entitled to free school meals who attend the school a few days a week and are at home the other days. How does the system work for them as the voucher covers 5 days.
The Ecode voucher which is provided to a parent can be amended by amount.

Can schools provide a mixture of meals/hampers and vouchers to different pupils as required?
Yes, schools will be best placed to decide this.

Do parents have the right to choose if they receive a meal, hamper or voucher or is it for the school to decide?
We would encourage schools and parents to work together to identify what is best for the child. The school will be best placed to take a final decision on this.

The guidance states that key worker pupils who are not entitled to free school meal should be offered ‘meal options’ on the days that they attend – does this mean that they can/should be charged for those meals? If so is there any limit on what they should be charged?
If the pupil wants a meal when attending school, they should follow the school’s policy on this which should already be in place pre-covid19

We will continue to ask for further clarification and guidance, which we will share with you when available.

Please note if you have any queries regarding individual claims/entitlement, contact the free school meals team on 0300 111 8007 or email