School lunches are usually just another cost on the long (and often expanding) list of things to fork out for. There are however a few exceptions that mean your child could be eligible for free school meals.
You probably won’t be surprised to know that there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question – frustratingly, the rules regarding free school meals vary across the UK.
Whether or not your child is entitled to free school meals usually comes down to what, if any, benefits you receive.
- In England, all infant school pupils (every child in reception class, year 1 & 2) in state funded schools can get a free lunch.
- In Scotland, all children from primary one to three in state funded schools are eligible for free lunches.
If your child isn’t in those year groups or goes to school in Northern Ireland or Wales, your child might still qualify for free school meals if you are claiming certain benefits and are on a low income.
And although they might not technically be at ‘school’ anymore, students between 16 and 18 are also offered free lunches in some parts of the UK, depending again on their parent’s circumstances.
Children who get paid qualifying benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.
Find out your eligibility for free school meals and how to apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland