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:

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.

The government has information about who is eligible for free school meals.

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


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