Free school meals

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

The following checkboxes are used for accordion drop-downs. When selected, they show content that was visually hidden

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.

If your child is in receipt of income related free school meals, they are automatically eligible for the Household Support Fund.

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

  • Universal Credit with no earned income or with net monthly earnings less than £616.67
  • 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)

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.

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   

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. 

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.

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.

The following checkboxes are used for accordion drop-downs. When selected, they show content that was visually hidden

The Department for Education permanently extended free school meal eligibility to children in all households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to maximum income thresholds of;

  • £22,700 for families outside of London with 1 child
  • £26,300 for families outside of London with 2 or more children

If your total household income is below the maximum thresholds detailed above and you are in any one of the following categories you need to email so that we can issue an online application form to you to be able to consider your particular circumstances;

  • Zambrano carers
  • families who have no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction
  • a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Chen carers
  • families holding a BN(O) passport
  • spousal visa holders
  • work visa holders
  • student visa holders
  • those with no immigration status

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.

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

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 from April 2024 will receive:

  • £1,480 for pupils in reception through to Year 6
  • £1,050 for pupils in years 7 through to 11
  • £2,570 for pupils who are in care or who have left local authority care through adoption/special guardianship order/child arrangements order/residence order
  • £340 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.


Contact us

0300 123 5012

Free School Meals
Cheshire East Council
PO Box 622


Or contact any Cheshire Maintained School.

Page last reviewed: 27 February 2024