Free school meal provision in schools
Update released from the DfE:
During the period of national lockdown, schools should provide meal options for all pupils who are in school, including vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. Meals should be available free of charge to:
- all infant pupils
- pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria
During the national lockdown, we expect schools to continue supporting children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home during term time. Schools will continue to receive funding to cover benefits-related free school meals and they can claim additional funding to help support eligible pupils at home.
We strongly encourage schools to work with their school catering team or food provider to provide food parcels to eligible free school meal pupils who are at home. Where school kitchens are open this should be the approach taken by schools. Schools can claim for additional funding of £3.50 per week for each eligible pupil receiving food parcel provision at home.
If the school has confirmed with the school catering team or food provider that they cannot provide food parcels for pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home, you can consider other local arrangements, which might include vouchers for local shops and supermarkets. Schools can claim to be reimbursed up to £15 per pupil eligible for benefits-related free school meals per week.
The DfE will open a national scheme to provide supermarket vouchers via an online portal as soon as possible. Further details will be published shortly.
Further details on how and when additional costs can be reclaimed will also be provided shortly.
Information on options for provision of free school meals to pupils who are at home, and the funding available, can be found in our updated guidance on providing free school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Free meal provision for further education students
Further education institutions should continue to provide support for students who are eligible for free meals, whether they are attending or studying remotely due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Institutions should continue to provide support in the most appropriate way based on their local circumstances.
Further information is available in the 16 to 19 free meals in further education guidance.