Free school meals

Free school mealsEvery child in reception, year 1 and year 2 classes is now entitled to a free school meal under the government's universal infant free school meal scheme. This is not means-tested.

Your children may also qualify for means-tested free school meals if you meet the following criteria:

  • You or your partner receive child benefit (for the child you are applying for), and
  • the child is in full time education, under 19 years of age, and
  • the child attends a local authority school or sixth form (but not a sixth form college). If your child attends nursery, then attendance must be for the full day in a nursery ran by Gateshead Council.

You and your partner must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA - IB)
  • Guarantee Pension Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA Income Related)
  • Child Tax Credit - but not Working Tax Credit - and your income for Tax Credit purposes must be less than £16,190.00 (details are shown on your Tax Credit award notice)
  • Working Tax Credit Run-on
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit and your net earned family income is less than £7,400.

Receipt of one of the above benefits will be checked with the relevant government departments (HMRC, DWP and Home Office) and this may be done via the Eligibility Checking Service.

If you qualify for free school meals, it is important for your child's school that you apply - even if your children are in reception, year 1 or year 2 and they receive a school meal under the universal infant free school meal scheme. For every valid application, your child's school can claim extra funding for resources such as extra tuition, teaching assistants or after-school clubs.

Children who receive a free school meal are not singled out in any way.

Apply now

If you meet the above criteria please fill in the means tested free school meals form and return it to the address shown on the form.

Icon for pdf Apply for means tested free meals [90.86KB]

If you qualify, the school or schools that your child or children attend will be informed and means-tested free school meals will be available immediately.

You must notify us immediately if your circumstances change and:

  • you stop receiving one of the qualifying benefits;
  • you stop being responsible for the child/children concerned;
  • your Tax Credit entitlement changes
  • you no longer give us consent to use the information you have provided.

You can do this by telephone or online using the contact details below.

If there is a change to your child or children's eligibility for free school meals, we will automatically notify the relevant school.

Any data collected as part of this application will be treated in accordance with the Data Protection Act and used in accordance with the council's data use principles. Further details can be found at


Contact us

Free School Meals Team
Benefit Section
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 3729

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