Free school meals during term time
Southwark free healthy school meals
Find out about the free healthy school meals scheme for primary and secondary schools in Southwark.
Free healthy school meals at maintained nursery and primary schools
In line with our commitment to give children ‘a great start in life’ all nursery or primary pupils are offered free and healthy school meals during term time.
How free school meals are funded
The government funds benefits related to free school meals, for pupils:
- whose families get certain benefits
- in reception, year 1 or year 2 class (age four to seven years old)
We provide additional funding to schools for:
- every nursery child
- key stage 2 pupils (year 3 to 6 children aged seven to 11 years old) so that all pupils can benefit from a hot and nutritious lunch
Free healthy school meals at secondary schools
When pupils move to secondary school, those who are entitled to benefits-related free school meals will get a free meal during term time.
Find out about the free healthy secondary school meals available to some pupils from families that get Universal Credit.
Nutritional standards that school meals need to meet
Our schools provide a two-course lunch each day. This is in line with national school food standards to make sure all pupils get a healthy, balanced meal.
These standards require that:
- high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish are regularly available
- at least two portions of fruit and vegetables are included with every meal
- bread, other cereals and potatoes are included with every meal
Additionally, there are controls on the following foods:
- deep fried food is limited to no more than two portions per week
- fizzy drinks, chocolate and other confectionery are restricted at lunchtimes
Visit your child’s school website or contact the school office if you need:
- specific information about the school’s lunch menu or catering arrangements
- or if your child has dietary requirements
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to apply for free healthy school meals?
No, but you do need to let your school know if you think your child may be entitled to benefits-related free school meals (FSM). It's important that you register for free school meals, if your child may be eligible. This will enable your child’s school to get additional funding via the Pupil Premium. This additional government funding is used by the school to help children make the best possible progress they can and to provide additional resources and educational experiences that they may not otherwise have access to.
Can I provide my child with a packed lunch, instead of having a free healthy meal?
Yes, you can still provide a packed lunch. We hope all children will benefit from a free healthy school meal and will join their peers in enjoying lunch together.
Many schools have packed lunch policies to make sure children avoid bringing certain foods into school, and they eat and drink a balanced lunch whilst at school.
Do free healthy school meals cater to special diets?
Yes, free healthy school meals accommodate special diets. Speak to your child's school for more information.
Page last updated: 08 December 2023