Free school meals

School meals can save you time and provide peace of mind that your child is enjoying a healthy, fresh and nutritious meal at lunchtime. Some of the benefits are:

  • Meals are packed full of goodness, with at least two of your child’s five-a-day.
  • They help to develop your children’s social skills and table manners.
  • Evidence shows that regular consumption of school dinners can improve educational attainment.
  • They save you time, with no shopping for sandwiches or making packed lunches.
  • You get peace of mind knowing your child is getting a healthy, nutritious cooked meal.

If your child's eligible, you could save up to £400 a year with free school meals. You'll also be able to access the Healthy Holidays programme during some school holidays.

Can I apply for free school meals?

You qualify for free school meals if you receive:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit with an annual income of less than £16,190, provided you are not receiving Working Tax Credit
  • the 'guaranteed' element of the State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit with an annual net earned income threshold of less than £7400
  • support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Your child may also be entitled to a free school meal because of a benefit that they receive in their own right.

How to apply

If you live in Barnsley

If you live in Barnsley and your child goes to school in Barnsley fill in our online form.

If you live in Barnsley, but your child goes to school in another area such as Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford or Kirklees, you should apply to the relevant council for your child’s school.

If you live outside Barnsley

If you live in Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds, Kirklees or Wakefield, but your child goes to school in Barnsley, fill in our online form above.

If your child is a Barnsley College student

If your child attends Barnsley College, please see the financial support webpage on Barnsley College's website for help with free school meals.

What happens next

We aim to make a decision within seven days of you applying. We'll write to you to let you know our decision. We also let the school know if your child is entitled to a free school meal.

More information

What changes do I need to tell you about?

You must tell us straight away if:

  • Your child leaves school or moves to another address.
  • Your child moves school.
  • You move to another address.

School meals are free for children in reception, year 1 and year 2. Why do I still need to apply for a free school meal?

All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 get free school meals. However, if you receive one of the benefits listed above you should still apply for a free school meal as you may also get help with:

  • The cost of residential school trips (speak to your school about this).
  • Travel costs to school. See our school travel page for more details.
  • Music lessons at school. (The lessons must be provided by Barnsley Music Service to qualify.)
  • Free school milk.

For each child registered for free school meals, the school will receive an annual pupil premium of:

  • £1345 for primary schools
  • £955  for secondary school

This is additional money for your child’s school.

Why have I been automatically awarded a free school meal for my child?

The government allows us to use information we already hold for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claims to identify households who may meet the criteria for free school meals and automatically make an award.

If you don’t want to have your information used for the automatic award then please contact us online. Your information will not be checked for entitlement and will be taken off the lists we send to schools.

Why am I still entitled to free school meals if my circumstances change?

From April 2018 the criteria used to determine which pupils are eligible for free school meals was updated to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit and the phasing out of other income-based benefits.

To ensure families are not disadvantaged during the rollout, protection arrangements have been put in place. This protection will apply until your child either leaves primary school or secondary school.

If you'd like more details about this please call us on (01226) 787787 and select option 3.

Data protection

We’ll use the information from your free school meals application form, and any supporting evidence you send us, to process your claim. We won't give information about you to anyone else, or use information about you for other purposes, unless the law allows us to.

Please get in touch if you’d like to know what information we have about you or how we use it.