Free School Meals

It is important for children to have a good nutritious meal at lunch time. If you find that you cannot afford school dinners you may be eligible for Free School Meals.

Eligibility Rules

To be eligible parents or guardians must be receiving one of the following: 

  • Income support or income-based Job Seekers Allowance;
  • Child Tax Credit with an annual taxable income of less than £16,190 (provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit)
  • Pension Guarantee Credit;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

 The following benefits are not sufficient evidence and will NOT qualify you for Free School Meals: Any amount of Working Tax Credit, Job Seekers Allowance (Contribution based), Disability Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Child Benefit or Housing Benefit. 

Free School Meals can only be given on the basis of a completed and approved application and cannot be backdated. 

To apply for Free School Meals please complete an application form. You can apply online direct through the Essex County Council website or you can request an application form from

Mrs Lucas, Student Support, in the Main Office at Stewards Academy on 01279 421951. 

Application Process 

When an application has been agreed, Essex County Council will send a letter to the parent or guardian and notify the school. 

Applications are to be renewed annually. Essex County Council will write to you before that time and ask for new evidence of one of the above benefits so that the Free School Meals can be continued. 

If you are eligible for Free School Meals, and your circumstances change in any way (such as changing address or school, and registering another child) you will need to contact the Team via to advise the team of these changes or complete a Change of Circumstances form available from Mrs Lucas, Student Support, in the Main Office at Stewards Academy.  

Legal Background

Free School Meals are administered by the LA and the qualifying rules are decided by Central Government.