Sign up for free school meals during national school meals week

1 November 2013

National School Meals Week starts on 4 November and we are using it to remind parents to check if they're eligible for free school meals.

If you have children at school and are eligible you could save £400 a year for each child and the school will benefit too - they'll get the pupil premium of £900 a year from the government for each child on free school meals.

We have made it easier for parents to apply for free school meals. A form is now on our website at (opens in a new window)

Jim Coyle, our Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:

"In these difficult financial times the council wants to make sure families are getting all the help they're entitled to."

It was announced in September that all infant school children will be able to benefit from free school meals from September 2014. We would urge you not to wait until then to start getting the benefits of free school meals. And those benefits are not only financial.

Research has shown that most packed lunches are not as healthy as hot, nutritious school lunches.

School meal benefits:

  • Improved behaviour in the afternoon
  • Improved concentration in the classroom
  • Eating a school dinner reinforces social skills and positive behaviour throughout the day
  • Evidence shows that a childhood habit for healthy eating is likely to stay with them for life
  • Increased intake of vegetables and a decline in consumption of soft drinks and crisps.

There's no need to worry about other children knowing whether your child gets free school meals. Only the school and catering staff will know.

You can claim free school meals if you are on any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or an Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (with an annual income of less than £16,190).

You can't claim free school meals if you claim Working Tax Credit.

National School Meals Week (4-8 Nov) is being celebrated in our schools with the Derbyshire children's favourite five.

On Monday, the emphasis is on local produce, like ice cream from Chatsworth estate dairy Cow House, Tuesday celebrates bonfires with sausages, Wednesday is roast dinner day with chicken on the menu, Thursday's taste of the world offers Bolognese from Italy and sweet and sour quorn from China, while Friday is all about fish.

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