Free school meals

The Council provides two types of free school meals to children attending a school within the Cheshire East Borough.

Free school meals for infants 

Children at school and in reception class, year 1 or year 2 (key stage 1) can have free school meals. This is called Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM). You don't need to claim for UIFSM, just contact your child’s school.

We suggest you do make a claim for free school meals even if your child is in key stage 1 as the school can claim additional funding (pupil premium) for new equipment and resources.  

Income related free school meals (IRFSM)

You can claim free school meals for each child who attends school in Cheshire East if you receive one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income related Employment Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit  - as long as you have a yearly household income of less than £16,190 (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) and do not get Working Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or with net monthly earnings less than £616.67

You can apply for nursery-age children if they attend before and after lunch sessions at a local authority nursery school, nursery class or an Academy nursery if it has the same Ofsted number as the primary school.

Phone 0300 123 5012 for further information and help.

Claim for free school meals

Apply for free school meals   

When your child starts primary or secondary education you can apply one calendar month before the start of the school term.

We cannot backdate claims for Free School Meals to cover unpaid dinner money, or to refund any dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.

We use the Government eligibility checker to confirm your entitlement. Successful claims can begin the same day. If your claim is not successful or you need to send more proof we will contact you by phone or email, your entitlement will only begin once this information is provided. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you can give your permission for your eligibility to be checked using these records.

Change of circumstances

You must tell us if you have any changes to your income or household. For example, you must tell us if

  • your benefits stop 
  • you start to get Working Tax Credit
  • your child changes school 
  • your child leaves school 
  • you change your address

If you do not tell us of any changes in your circumstances, you may have to pay for school meals that your child was not entitled to.

Appealing against the free school meals eligibility criteria

The qualifying criteria for free school meals is set by Central Government, not Cheshire East Council. Any change to the criteria must be raised via your Member of Parliament.

Schools outside of Cheshire East

If you live in Cheshire East but your child attends a school in that is in other local authority area, you need to apply for Free School Meals from the Local Education Authority the school belongs to.  To find out which Local Authority your child’s school is in visit GOV.UK

School meals

Your child's school will arrange for the meals to be provided at school. Find out more about our school meals service.

Pupil premium

This is additional funding that your child’s school can claim. It is available for any child who qualifies for free school meals due to their family income.

The money can be used by the school to help to provide more support to the children, to help develop children’s academic progress, their self esteem or their social and emotional skills.

For each child registered, the school will receive:

  • £1,320 for pupils in reception through to Year 6
  • £935 for pupils in years 7 through to 11
  • £2,300 for pupils who are in care or who have left local authority care through adoption/special guardianship order/child arrangements order/residence order
  • £300 for pupils where either parent is a serving member of the armed forces or has been in service during the child’s education 

Contact the school to find out how your child's pupil premium has been spent.