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Southwark Free Healthy School Meals

Maintained Nursery and Primary schools only

In line with the council’s commitment to enable children to have ‘A great start in life’ and to lead healthy lives, any nursery or primary pupil who wants one, is now able to enjoy a free and healthy meal provided at school during term time.

The government funds Free School Meals (FSM), for pupils whose families receive certain benefits, plus meals for any other pupil in a reception class or a year 1 or year 2 class. Southwark Council provides additional funding to schools for a ‘free healthy school meal’ for every nursery child and key stage 2 pupil, so that all pupils can benefit from nutritious food.

More information is available on our free school meals page. Please note that when pupils move to secondary school, it's only those who are entitled to benefits-related free school meals that will receive a free meal during term-time.

School meal standards

Our schools provide a fully inclusive two course meal each day, in line with national nutritional standards. These ensure children are provided with a healthy, balanced meal.

The 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 regularly available

Additionally, there are controls on the following foods:

  • deep fried food limited to no more than two portions per week
  • fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate and other confectioneries may be removed from school meals and vending machines

If you require specific information about your school’s menu or catering arrangements, or if your child has dietary requirements, visit the school’s website or contact the school office. You can also arrange an appointment to visit the school to see what service is being provided.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to apply for a free healthy school meal?

No, but you do need to let your school know if you think you may be entitled to benefits-related free school meals (FSM). It's important that you register for free school meals, if you think your child may be eligible, as it will enable your child’s school to receive additional funding via the Pupil Premium, totalling £1,320 per child. This additional government funding is used by the school to help children to make the best possible progress they can and to provide additional resources and educational experiences that they may not otherwise have access to.

More information about who is eligible for free school meals is available on the government website.

Can I provide my child with a packed lunch, instead of having a free healthy meal?

Yes, you can still provide a packed lunch if you prefer. Many schools have packed lunch policies to ensure that children avoid certain foods and eat and drink healthily while at school. However, we hope all children will benefit from a free, healthy school meal and will join their peers in enjoying the lunch experience together.

What's in a healthy free school meal

Healthy school meals are those which include a variety of foods containing all the nutrients a growing child needs. Our school meals should help children to achieve a balanced diet by including plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, some protein rich foods, some milk and dairy foods and only small amounts of foods high in fat, salt and sugar. All school meals offered in England also need to meet the nutrient based standards for school meals.

Do free healthy school meals cater for special diets?

Yes, free healthy school meals accommodate special diets. Speak to your child's school for more information.

More information about healthy eating

You can find out more about healthy eating at Change 4 life and School food matters.

Page last updated: 14 December 2021

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