Free School Meals


Meals and Uniform Grants are subject to Department of Education Criteria and Education Authority Approval.

Application forms are now available from the school office / your regional Education Authority office.
For further information, please visit: Education Support for NI website

Completed forms with full verification received will be given priority in date order received. During the months July to October it may take up to 6 weeks to administer the claim.

Who is entitled to receive free meals?
Children are entitled to free school meals if:

  • the parent/guardian is in receipt of Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Employment and Support Allowance, or if a pupil claims Income Support in their own name; or,
  • the parent/guardian is in receipt of Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of £16,190 or less; or,
  • he/she has a statement of special educational needs and is designated to require a special diet; or
  • he/she is a boarder at a special school; or,
  • the parent is in receipt of the Guarantee element of State Pension Credit; or
  • he/she is the child of an asylum seeker supported by the Home Office National Asylum Support Service (NASS).

What is the procedure for applying for Free School Meals?
An application form for free school meals has to be completed by Parent/Guardian /Claimant and forwarded to the Education Authority in which region you reside. Guidance can be obtained from the Education Authority.

If my partner or I are eligible for Child Tax Credit / Working Tax Credit am I entitled to claim Free School Meals for my children?

When must I re-apply for Free Meals?
Parents/Guardians must re-apply for free school meals once each year when a renewal request is sent to them from the Education Authority.

How long will it take to process my form?
The Education Authority will process completed forms with full verification in order of date of receipt and it may take up to 6 weeks to administer the claim.

If my circumstances change must I notify my local Education Authority Regional Office?
If the following circumstances change parents must inform the Education Authority immediately and re-apply for free school meals if necessary.

Parents/Guardians must inform the Education Authority immediately if:

  • Income Support / Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance / Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance / Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) ceases;
  • Claimant for Income Support / Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance / Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance / Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) changes;
  • The HM Revenue and Customs reassess your annual taxable income to above £16,190 or a change occurs in your Tax Credit claim;
  • The family change address;
  • Child/children on claim change school;
  • Addition/removal of child/children on claim;
  • They become eligible for Working Tax Credit.

Why have my children been removed from Free Meals?
Your children may have been removed because the Education Authority did not receive a renewal application, which was sent to you, or you have changed address and did not inform the appropriate regional Office. If you have ceased to claim the appropriate benefit then the children will have been removed from the free school meals list.

If my child goes to school in another Board what must I do?
Parents must always apply to the regional area of the Education Authority they reside in. If a child attends school in another Education Authority Region, providing the parents are in receipt of the appropriate benefits, free school meals shall be arranged by the Board in which you reside.

Are foster children entitled to Free School Meals?
If you are in receipt of Foster Care Allowance for the child you would not be entitled to free school meals.

Can I have a cash allowance in place of free school meals?

Can I be refunded for meals bought prior to my application form being processed?
The Education Authority will not make refunds; free school meals can only commence when the appropriate Education Authority regional office has processed an application form.

How will the school know that my child/children are entitled to Free School Meals?
The Education Authority will notify both you and the school(s) concerned regarding entitlement to free school meals.