School meals

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

Primary schools

We provide hot meals in 21 percent of our primary schools. A school meal costs £2.35.

Secondary schools

We currently do not 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 NHS 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.

If your child is at a maintained nursery school or class, you can apply to claim free school meals provided the child attends for a full day and you are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits

Year 3/Key Stage 2 and older

Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

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

From 1 April 2018, transitional protections will be implemented for those pupils who might otherwise have lost free school meals following the update to the eligibility criteria. The transitional protections will be awarded as follows:

  • Any pupil who is in receipt of free school meals immediately prior to 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This applies even if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria during that time.
  • Any pupil who gains eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period. This applies even if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria at a subsequent point during the rollout period.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing pupil who no longer meets the eligibility criteria at that point will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.

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.