Eligibility for free school lunches
All children in primary 1 to 5 get free school meals.
Children after primary 5 could still get free school meals if you're on a low income. Your child can get free lunches in school if you get:
- Universal Credit (where your monthly earned income is not more than £726)
- Income Support
- income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
- income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Your child is also entitled to free school lunches if you get:
- Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit, and your income is less than £18,725
- both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and have an income of up to £8,717
Free meals for children before they go to school
All children in early learning and childcare can get a free meal on the days they go. This can be either breakfast, lunch or dinner.
You can up to get 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year for all 3 or 4 year old children and eligible 2 year olds.
16-18 year olds
If you're 16-18 years old and receive any of the above benefits in your own right, you can claim free school lunches.
Getting free lunches if you're not getting benefits or tax credits
Your child might still get a free lunch in school, early learning or childcare if you're experiencing financial hardship. This could be because:
- your immigration status means you cannot get help from the government
- you're still waiting on your first Universal Credit notice
Contact your local council for more information.
Apply for free school meals
You can apply for free school meals on your local council's website. You may be able to apply for help with school clothing costs at the same time.
Universal free school lunches
Free school lunches in primary 1 to 5
Children at local council schools can get free school meals during term-time in primary 1 to 5. Your family's financial circumstances do not matter.
Contact your local council or your child's school if your child is not getting free meals at this age.
Some children in funded childcare before starting school (early learning and childcare) can also get free meals.
Children at independent schools and home-educated children are not entitled to free school meals.
Free school lunches in special schools
Children who go to a special schools run by their local council or are Scottish Government funded can get free school meals during term-time. Your childs age and family’s financial circumstances do not matter.
Contact your local council or your child’s school, if they're attending a special school and not getting free school meals.
Help with school meals during school holidays 2023/24
If you get free school meals you may also be able to get help during the school holidays.
To qualify you need to get one of the benefits in the eligibility section.
You can apply as soon as you start to get one of these benefits. Even if this happens during school holidays. You do not need to wait until the school terms starts again to apply.
This applies to these holidays in coming school year:
- Summer 2023
- October mid-term 2023
- Christmas 2023
- February mid-term 2024
- Easter 2024
Contact your local council to apply
You need to contact your local council to find out how to apply.
This does not apply if your child gets free school meals due to only being in primary 1 to 5. You need to also get the benefits in the eligibility section. Contact your local council for more information.
Other free food and drink in schools
Some local councils and schools offer other free food and drink for pupils including free:
Check with your child's school or your local council to find out what's available in your area.
Catering for dietary requirements
If your child has a special dietary need (for example an allergy or a religious requirement) their school should cater for it.
Contact your local council if it does not currently cater for your child's need.
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