Published On: Wed, Jul 29th, 2020

Free school meals: Who is entitled to free school meals?

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The Government announced it would be extending the free school meal voucher scheme for children to last throughout the summer holidays, following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford. Eligible children can get a £90 food voucher to cover the six-week summer holiday, or £105 if their school has a seven-week summer break. In Wales and Scotland, the Government is supporting children on free school meals by providing vouchers, meal deliveries or bank transfers until they are back at school.

Who is entitled to free school meals?

Free school meals have been at least partly funded by the Government for more than 100 years due to concerns about malnourishment and child hunger.

Children of all ages who are living in households on income-related benefits may be eligible for the scheme all the way through to sixth form.

New claims made from April 2018 in England must come from households with a maximum yearly income of £7,400 after tax, not including any benefits.

The same applies in Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland, the household income threshold is £14,000.

READ MORE: Children must be given every chance to thrive, says MARK RUSSELL

If you receive any of the qualifying benefits, you should inform your local authority as it means your child’s school could get extra funding.

In England, approximately 1.3million children claimed free school meals in 2019 – equating around 15 percent of state-educated pupils.

The most prevalent parts for claiming school meals were some parts off London, the north of England and the Midlands.

In these regions, between a quarter and a third of the total number of school pupils were claiming free school meals.

The majority of children have been out of school during lockdown, which prompted concerns that those relying on free school meals could “fall through the cracks” and go hungry.

In recent years, free school meals have been linked to lowering obesity levels and boosting academic achievements for poorer pupils.

During term time, many families were issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card worth £15 each week per pupil.

Vouchers can be spent in all the main supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S.

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