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Free school meals FAQs

What are free school meals?

Free school meals provide eligible students with a free school meal each day. To qualify, families should be receiving one or more of the qualifying benefits. Free school meals are administered by Plymouth City Council for most of the schools within Plymouth.

Can claims for free school meals be backdated?

No, a child is only eligible for free school meals from the date on which their eligibility was confirmed. There is no provision to backdate free school meals.

How do I apply for Free School Meals?

Click the button below to apply for free school meals:

Apply for free school meals

Is there any help available to fill in the application form?

Please contact the free school meals team tel: 01752 307410.

Many schools also offer assistance with filling forms and supporting you through the application process. You can also visit any Plymouth Library or speak to staff at the First Stop shop who will help you with your application.

What are Universal Infant Free School Meals?

All pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England are eligible for a Universal Infant Free School Meal. Parents / Guardians do not need to apply for UIFSM.  Pupils moving into KS2 will lose their entitlement to UIFSM.  If they wish to continue receiving a School Meal they will either have to pay or claim Free School Meals.

Can sixth form children receive free school meals?

Yes, children attending sixth forms can receive Free School Meals.

Note: The Free School Meal Team do not administer Free School Meal claims for Tertiary Colleges. Please contact the setting directly.

Can a child living on their own (not with parents) claim Free School Meals?

Yes, as long as they are receiving a qualifying benefit.

The child lives with his/her other parent at a different address – can they apply for Free School Meals?

Free school meals eligibility is based on the family and not the individual.

  • If a step-father/mother or partner is living at the address and in receipt of an eligible benefit, the family will be eligible.
  • A parent living at a different address to the child will be able to use his or her benefit as proof of eligibility for that child.

Can children in care claim free school meals?

This is dependent upon the carer circumstance. If the carer is receiving money for school meals as part of their allowance (fostering allowance/grant) – No, they are not entitled to Free School Meals. 

Private Fostering may be acceptable and claims should be referred to the Free School Meals Team.

My child has received a Not Eligible result, is there any other help available?

You will need to contact the school your child is attending and see if they have any provisions in place to help.

What shall I do if my child changes school and is eligible for free school meals?

Inform the new school that your child received free school meals at the previous school.  If the new school need confirmation they can either contact the old school or this office.

I have been issued a Pending result, what does this mean?

This will mean that there is a change to the benefits you receive. A conclusive result cannot be issued until your benefits claim have been reassessed and this can take up to 6 weeks / 30 working days. 

We will continue to check your eligibility during this period until we receive a conclusive result, which will be notified to you and the school.

I have 2 children, my eldest is eligible for free school meals and my youngest not eligible. How can this be the case?

Currently there is a protection in place called Transitional Protection, which means any child eligible for free school meals on 1 April 2018, will keep their free school meal eligibility until 31 March 2022. Children will keep this eligibility even if parents circumstances change.

If both siblings did not apply for free school meals at the same time and parents financial circumstances change within the 2 applications being submitted, both siblings will not have the same eligibility.  

I am disappointed with the free school meals my child is receiving. Who can I inform?

You will need to inform the school your child is attending as they are responsible for the provision of the meal.  The school will then liaise with the free school meal provider for their school and try to resolve the issue.