Free school meals and milk

Ideas for healthy and affordable meals

Looking for ideas for healthy and affordable lunchtime meals? They can all be made using what's provided in our food packages:

Meal planner and recipe ideas

Apply for free school meals

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals. We use the Department for Education's free school meals eligibility checking system to determine eligibility.

To apply, you will need to register and provide:

  • your National Insurance Number or National Asylum Support Service Reference Number
  • your last name
  • your date of birth

If your entitlement to free school meals cannot be assessed through the eligibility checking system, we will let you know.  If you think you are eligible to the benefits listed below you can provide us with more details for a manual assessment.

Please contact us on 0300 500 80 80 or complete an application form.

More information about free school meals:

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

  • 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)

Free school meals for children in all households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) has been permanently extended subject to maximum income thresholds.  More information is available here for children of those who have no recourse to public funds. Families in these groups cannot apply online and should telephone 0300 500 80 80 to apply.

You can register online Citizen Portal - sign in (

Information you need to register:

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

If you are eligible for free school meals the start date will normally be within two working days of parents contacting us and entitlement being confirmed. Children attending maintained nurseries 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 Council's 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 you are unable to apply online please call 0300 500 80 80 or complete an application form [PDF].

  • For children moving from a school that does not use Nottinghamshire County Council’s eligibility assessment service you will need to apply to us to ensure that free school meal eligibility is continued if the child is currently covered by transitional protection. You may be required to provide evidence of transitional protection.

Universal infant school meals (UIFSM) provides funding for all government funded schools to offer free school meals to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2. The UIFSM is different funding from that of benefits-related free school meals. However, it is important that parents who receive one of the qualifying benefits listed above register for benefits related free school meals as this enables the child’s school to claim pupil premium.

The pupil premium is additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise attainment. 

Currently the pupil premium allocations are:

  • £1,345 for each eligible primary-aged pupil
  • £955 for each eligible secondary-aged pupil.

Free milk

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 get the same support payments as for free school meals.

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

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