School meals | Oxfordshire County Council

School meals

Find out where hot lunches are on offer and if your child is eligible for free school dinners.

girl with school meal and gravy

Primary schools

We offer hot school meals at 80 per cent of our primary schools. A school meal costs £2.20.

Secondary schools

We do not currently provide a service for secondary schools in Oxfordshire. See your school's website for details of meal provision.

If your school does not offer hot meals, see the Directgov pages on school lunches and nutrition for healthy packed lunch ideas.

Free school meals

All children in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 can receive school meals at no cost to you.

Year 3/Key Stage 2 and older

Free school meals are offered to children whose parents receive:

  • Income Support
  • income based Employment & Support Allowance
  • income based Jobseekers Allowance
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit provided your annual income as assessed by the Inland Revenue does not exceed £16,190 and provided that Working Tax Credit is not included.
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

We are not allowed to recognise any other benefit other than those mentioned above.

How to apply

Ask for an application form from your child’s school, complete it and return to the school together with proof of benefit so that your school can assess eligibility. Proof of benefit cannot be demonstrated by a bank statement or photocopies, only by an original of the following:

  • Income Support - letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)/Jobcentre Plus dated within one month of application showing breakdown of income support payment.
  • Income Based Employment & Support Allowance - letter from DWP/Jobcentre Plus dated within one month of application.
  • Child Tax Credit (without Working Tax Credit and 'annual income as assessed by the Inland Revenue' of below the threshold figure for the year) - All pages of the TC602 Inland Revenue tax credit award notice for the current tax year.
  • State pension credit - Pension Credit M1000 Award Notice.

Asylum seekers will need to provide a National Asylum and Support Service (NASS) support notice or IS96 document including details of authority providing support under part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. You will be required to supply:

  • NASS reference number
  • Port reference number
  • Name of authority

When to apply

You should apply to your school when you first start to receive benefit as claims are not backdated. Your eligibility will be reviewed at least every six months by the school.

You should notify the school immediately if any changes occur to your benefits.

Food & More

Our catering service, Food & More, provides school meals to 80 per cent of Oxfordshire's primary schools.

The Food & More philosophy

We believe that offering the right choice in a child’s primary school years can encourage healthy eating throughout their lives. We support school objectives of teaching children how to eat more healthily.

An important way of doing this is by offering variety, adapting 'grown up' dishes to children's tastes and encouraging children to try something new. We also aim to make mealtimes at school enjoyable by celebrating special days at school with a festive menu.  Examples are important dates in the calendar such as Diwali, Eid or Christmas, but we also offer menus which link to the curriculum: International Week, British Food Fortnight and Victorians are recent examples.

We know that many parents find school meals a convenient way to ensure their children receive a nutritious hot meal every day. With this in mind, we aim to balance the needs of children, parents and schools, and work closely with our suppliers to ensure that we provide a value-for-money service.


Food & More's menus adhere to the government's nutritional standards and follow guidelines and standards set by the School Food Trust, the Local Authority Caterers Association and the Oxfordshire Food for Health Alliance.

These are some of the ways in which they have been improving nutrition for school children:

Increasing anti-oxidants (particularly vitamins A, C and E)

To help boost the children’s immune systems. This is being achieved by significantly increasing the use of fresh fruit and vegetables; having a greater variety of salads, with many schools now having a salad bar where children can take additional salads, for example apple coleslaw, beansprout salad and crudites as well as green salads and tomatoes; a wider range of fresh seasonal fruit is given including fresh pineapple, Galia and Honeydew melon, nectarines, and strawberries as well as apples, bananas, satsumas and oranges. Each child is provided with at least two portions of fruit and vegetable a day.

Increasing fibre

By a greater use of wholemeal products, such as wholemeal flour in homemade bread, pastry and desserts; by the increase of fruit and vegetables; the use of oats in desserts and as a thickening in savoury dishes.

Increasing complex carbohydrate

Complex carbohydrates are sources of slow release energy.  As well as the appropriate carbohydrate with the menu, such as potato, pasta, rice or couscous, bread is available everyday for those pupils who need additional carbohydrate.

Increasing Omega 3 fatty acids

By including salmon on the Menu Cycle.

Reducing sugar

Recipes have been adapted to reduce the sugar content.  For example, the sugar content of Fruit Crumble has been reduced from 8g per portion down to 5.8g per portion. Also fresh fruit and yoghurts are available everyday as an alternative dessert.

Reduced salt

Salt is no longer available as a condiment in the dining rooms. Recipes have been adapted, reducing the salt content and enhancing flavour with other seasoning, such as herbs and spices.  Low salt products are chosen from suppliers such as low salt and sugar baked beans.

Reducing saturated fat

By using low fat dairy products such as semi-skimmed milk, and low fat yoghurts. Fried items are severely restricted on the menu. For example, chips are served once a week at the most. Whenever potatoes are cooked in oil an alternative carbohydrate is offered.

Genetically modified ingredients

We do not knowingly use genetically modified ingredients.

Fresh meat

Food & More are increasingly sourcing fresh, local meat from local butchers. We do not use products that contain mechanically-recovered meat.

Local produce

We aim to source local produce to reduce food mileage and provide better quality meals. Currently, 25 per cent of our schools receive locally-produced meat. Wherever possible, vegetables will be locally sourced as well.

Special diets and allergies

Our staff are trained in allergy awareness and every effort will be made to meet special dietary requirements. Special requirements (eg meals catering for allergy or diabetes sufferers) should be made known to the catering supervisor or headteacher so that we can provide an alternative.


All our staff are fully trained in all aspects of Food Hygiene, Health and Safety and Customer services. Our Catering Supervisors are also given training in Nutrition and specifically the needs of children. If you are interested in working for us, please contact us.

Extra services

We offer an extra range of services at the school’s request. This includes:

  • fruit bars
  • breakfast
  • mid-morning break service
  • after-school service

Not happy with our meals?

We are always aiming to improve our meals. If your child is not happy with our food, they should tell a teacher or the catering supervisor or contact us. They can then investigate why the child does not like the food, discuss how to improve and offer an alternative.

Last reviewed
10 August 2017

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