Free school meals
Free meals for primary school aged children
Your child will be able to receive free school meals if they are in reception class, year 1 or year 2 regardless of benefits or household earnings.
For the 2023-2024 school year only, children in year 3, year 4, year 5 and year 6 will also be able to receive free school meals regardless of benefits or household earnings. Funding for this is provided by the Mayor of London and it covers schools in London boroughs only.
All primary age children will receive free school dinners, however, it is still worth notifying us if you meet the criteria below as your child's school will receive additional funding.
Also, if it is known that your child is eligible, they will continue to receive free school meals after the 2023-2024 school year even if by then your personal circumstances have changed.
If you or your child are receiving any of the following benefits you may be eligible for free school meals after year 6 but also for extra support whilst in reception and in years 1 to 6.
- Universal Credit (your household income must be less than £7,400 a year after tax and not including any benefits you receive)
- Income support
- Income based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income related Employment Support Allowance
- Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income of less than £16,190
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
If it is confirmed that your child is entitled to free school meals, they will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they are in on 31 March 2025.
There will be no need to inform your school or the council if your personal circumstances change.
Apply for the free school meal scheme
Why free school meals are so important
A helping hand with the cost of living
To prepare a packed lunch that is equivalent to a school meal in terms of nutritional value will cost on average £2.25 per day (November 2022 figures) and this price could start to rise as food costs and inflation rise.
Our menus run on a three-week menu cycle so that a child does not get bored of eating the same meal daily and it would be difficult and expensive to replicate this with a packed lunch.
It gives children the nutrients they need to grow and develop
A number of studies have shown that the majority of packed lunches fail to meet the school food standards and that it is far easier for a child to get the nutrients they need from a school lunch, in fact the School Food Plan reported that only 1 per cent of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards applied to school meals.
Our school lunches are provided by our own in-house School Meals service HES Catering who ensures that all of our school lunches served exceed national nutritional standards so you can be confident that your child is having a balanced meal.
We only use highest quality ingredients
Our commitment to high quality ingredients enables us to work closely with our suppliers ensuring the ingredients we use in our dishes are fresh, locally sourced, and sustainable.
Your child will get a healthy, balanced meal every day with different options to suit every dietary needs.
Havering Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF)
Being eligible for free school meals gives you access to funded spaces for the Havering HAF Programme.
Need between term time support with meals?
We run a scheme to support you with free school meals between term times if you are eligible.