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Free school meals during term time

Free healthy secondary school meals

Find out about the free healthy secondary school meals available to some pupils from families that get Universal Credit.

Who is eligible for free healthy secondary school meals

We’re pleased to let you know that we are introducing free healthy secondary school meals for all secondary school pupils:

  • from families who get Universal Credit
  • and who are not currently eligible for government benefits related free school meals (FSM)

Your child will also need to be:

  • a Year 7 to 13 student
  • at a school in Southwark (whether they live in the borough or not)

How the free school meal scheme will work in schools

Your child will get either a prepaid card or use their fingerprint to get a lunchtime meal. It can only be used to pay for lunchtime food provided by the school.

It can not be used to pay for:

  • a packed lunch outside of school
  • morning or afternoon break food

If they haven’t spent all the day’s allowance this will not be carried over to the next day. All mainstream schools use cashless payments. So your child won’t be identifiable as getting the free school meals at the till or in the dining room.

When the scheme will be available in schools

We’re introducing free healthy school meals for many secondary school pupils this academic year 2023/24.

We expect most schools to start after the October 2023 half-term. Some schools will need to improve their kitchen facilities to offer these meals, so they may start later. Your child’s school will contact you when they're ready to provide the free school meals.

How to apply for the free healthy secondary school meals

Your child’s school will contact you and tell you how to apply. They will send you an application form to complete. As part of the application, you need to show that your household gets or has recently applied for Universal Credit.

You will also need to provide the school with a:

Impact on other government benefits you get

If your child already gets government benefits related free school meals (FSM) you can’t apply for the free healthy secondary school meals. But if they are no longer eligible for FSM in the future you can apply.

Applying for, and getting Southwark free healthy secondary school meals will not affect any government benefits you get or are entitled to.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the scheme you can contact your child’s school.

Page last updated: 08 December 2023

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