How to get free school meal vouchers during lockdown in England
6 January 2021, 10:03
How do I get free school meals for my children during lockdown? Here's what you need to know...
Boris Johnson announced England would be heading into a third lockdown on Monday January, 4.
This means schools across the country have been forced to close, with children once again having to learn from home.
But the Prime Minister has reassured parents that free school meals will continue for those who need them.
He told the nation on Tuesday: "We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we’ll distribute more devices to support remote education."
How do I get free school meals in lockdown?
The Government hasn’t yet finalised how parents and guardians will receive free school meals, but it is expected to work the same way as the lockdown back in March.
During the first lockdown, families of children who qualify for free school meals received either supermarket vouchers or food sent to their home.
It was up to the schools to decide which support was offered, with some sending vouchers via email or via post.
The vouchers were issued per child and were worth £15 per week and were eligible to be used in Aldi, Asda, McColl’s, Morrisons, M&S Food, Sainsbury's, Tesco or Waitrose.
Alternatively, some schools chose to send out food directly to children using their cooks or a local meal delivery service.
The costs were covered by the Department for Education (DfE).
How to claim free school meals
This can be different depending on where you live.
It can be done via the child's school or their local authority and if you claim housing benefit or council tax support already, you can apply for free school meals on the same form.
Enter your postcode into the Gov.uk website to see what the process is in your area.
Is my child entitled to free school meals?
Eligibility for free school meals is different across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Children ages of 4 to 16 from households who claim the following support are typically eligible:
Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
Income-related employment and support allowance
Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
The guaranteed element of pension credit
Child tax credit (provided you’re not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual income of no more than £16,190)
Working tax credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for working tax credit
Universal Credit - if you applied on or after April 1, 2018 your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
Separately, in England all pupils in reception and year's one and two, regardless of income, can get free school meals during term time in state schools.
In Scotland, all children in primary, year's one, two and three can get free school meals.