If you are claiming certain benefits you could save up to £500 a year by claiming free school meals for your child.
What are the eligibility criteria for free school meals?
Children whose parents receive the following support payments are entitled to receive free school meals in maintained schools in Wales:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and their annual income does not exceed £16,190. (HM Revenue and Customs are responsible for assessing the level of annual income.)
- Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
- Universal Credit
Young people who receive Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance in their own right are also entitled to receive Free School Meals.
You can learn more about free school meals on the Welsh Assembly website.
How to apply
The quickest and easiest way is to apply online.
Alternatively you can apply by post using a paper application form. These are available from your school, by contacting the Free School Meal Team, or by downloading the form below:
Free school meals application form (PDF 57kb)
If you are eligible your child's school will be notified within five working days.
If you are already claiming free school meals for your child, for each new school year, this entitlement will automatically follow your child to the next stage of their education (i.e. in September). If this involves moving to a new school (i.e. moving from primary to secondary school) the new school will be advised of your entitlement without the need to re-apply.
If your child transfers to another school at any other time or for any other reason, free school meals will be dealt with as part of your transfer application with the Local Education Admission Team.
What if my circumstances change?
You should notify the Free School Meal Team if:
- You start work and come off benefits
- Your benefit changes
- You change address
- You have another child starting school for the first time
Failure to notify us in any changes to your benefit may mean you have to pay for any meals taken whilst you were not eligible.
Alternatively you can call Catering Services on 01495 235262 or email email@example.com.
Secondary school meals - cashless catering
If your child attends a comprehensive school that operates a cashless catering system, they will use the same ID card issued to paying pupils but their card will automatically be credited with £2.05 per day. This means the process is completely anonymous.
Caerphilly Catering provide the catering to the following comprehensive schools, all of which operate a cashless catering system:
- St Cenydd
- Pontllanfraith – This school uses biometric scanning (fingerprints) instead of an ID card and the account is credited in the same way.
If your child attends a different comprehensive school to the ones listed above, they too may offer cashless catering but you will need to check this directly with the school.
If your child attends a secondary school that does not have cashless catering, the school can advise you how the process works at that particular school.
School clothing grant for year 7 pupils
If you are claiming free school meals for your child and they are moving from primary school to their first year of secondary school, a one-off clothing grant of £105 is available.
You do not have to apply for this grant. Catering Services will automatically write to you to tell you that your child is eligible for the grant and how to claim it.
Decided not to apply?
You may be eligible for free school meals but have decided that you do not wish to pursue your entitlement. You need to be aware that school meals offer a healthy option with significant nutritional benefits. Recent evidence suggests that having a healthy meal at lunchtime can assist in improving a childs performance and concentration during the day. Should you still consider it not appropriate to take up your entitlement then it should also be pointed out that all claimants generate additonal funding to schools.
If you have decided not to apply we would be interested in understanding why.