Free school meals and milk

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and we want to make it as easy as possible for parents and schools.  NCC uses the Department for Education free school meals eligibility checking system to determine eligibility.  Parents only need to provide their National Insurance Number or National Asylum Support Service Reference Number, surname and date of birth.  For information about where to apply click here

Qualifying benefits

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

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earning from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) with an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for the four weeks after the person stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Registering for free school meals

Register online.

The information needed to register includes:

  • personal details (including national insurance number and date of birth) for the parent/carer
  • child’s details in full including their date of birth and the school they attend.

If eligible for free school meals and/or milk the start date will normally be within two working days of parents contacting us and entitlement being verified.  Children attending maintained nurseries will also qualify for a free school meal as long as they are receiving funded early years education before and after lunch. 

Children transferring between schools that use Nottinghamshire County Councils eligibility assessment service do not need to reapply.  For children attending a school that does not use this service you should contact the school directly for information about how to apply for free school meals.

If parents are unable to apply online they should contact us on 0300 500 80 80 or they can complete an application form.  

Children moving to/from Nottinghamshire schools

Children moving to a Nottinghamshire school who are covered by transitional protection will still need to apply to us to ensure that their free school meal eligibility is continued. Parents may be required to provide evidence of their transitional protection. For children leaving Nottinghamshire schools who are eligible, we will indicate in the stop letter to parents that their entitlement is covered by transitional protection.

Universal infant meals

All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools are entitled to receive a school meal.  It is important that all parents who receive one of the benefits listed above register for free school meals as this will enable the child’s school to claim pupil premium allocation.  The pupil premium is additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise attainment. 

Currently the pupil premium allocations are:

  • £1,320 for each eligible primary-aged pupil
  • £935 for each eligible secondary-aged pupil.

Free milk scheme

Free milk is available for:

  • children under the age of five in school or daycare
  • children receiving free school meals. The eligibility criteria for free milk entitlement is exactly the same as for free school meals. Where local authorities or schools provide milk, it must be free to children whose parents are in receipt of the same support payments as for free school meals.

Milk is subsidised for all other pupils in primary education and in special schools.


For further information contact us on 0300 500 80 80.

Information on benefits

GOV.UK has information on the various benefits which entitle your child to free school meals:

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