Believe it or not – there is such a thing as a free lunch. If you’re receiving benefits, your child could receive a healthy, tasty meal every day at school and it won’t cost you a penny.
Many children are missing out on free school meals, which could save parents over £350 per child every year. Plus, if you qualify for free school meals you’ll automatically get school clothing assistance worth £25 per child, per year.
Pupils are now spoilt for choice with a nutritional, balanced menu, meeting government standards, where they can choose from a variety of freshly cooked main meals and desserts. For example roast dinners, spaghetti bolognaise, chicken tikka, vegetable moussaka, and delicious desserts such as raspberry and apple crumble or Mississippi mud pie. Also on a daily basis they can enjoy a selection of fresh salad, fruit and yoghurt.
Your child will be entitled to free school meals and school clothing assistance, if you or your partner receives any of the following benefits:
- Income support
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit and an annual income less than £16,190
- The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit ‘run-on’ (the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit) – free meals apply for these four weeks only
- Support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS)
Cllr Waheed Akbar, Executive Member with responsibility for Children’s Services, said: “School meals are a fantastic way of guaranteeing children are eating a nutritious, tasty and well-balanced meal during the day. Research suggests a healthy school meal may improve concentration levels which ultimately will help pupils achieve better results.
“There is such a thing as a free lunch, so don’t miss out, please do check if your child is eligible. You will also be helping the school they attend to receive extra Government funding as they will receive £600 for every pupil that applies and qualifies for free school meals. For your school to receive this, your child must be registered for free school meals by 4 October 2012.”
Young people may also be eligible for free school meals beyond year 11 if they continue in education after they reach 16 years and go into the school’s sixth form.
Financial assistance which could help towards paying for meals may also be available for those attending a college or, in some cases, an independent training. The Government scheme called the 16-19 Bursary Fund, is intended to support young people to stay in education where they can receive up to £1,200 bursary per year. To qualify for the scheme the young person must meet one of the following criteria:
- they are in care
- are a care leaver
- they are in receipt of income support
- disabled young person in receipt of Employment Support Allowance who is also in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.
Colleges are responsible for distributing the bursaries and use their discretion to make awards to other young people in ways that best fit the needs and circumstances of their students. Bursary awards will be targeted towards young people facing financial barriers to stay on in education. It is likely that if a young person received free school meals they should be able to get money from this fund. The money can be used for meals and may also cover costs of transport, books and equipment. Students should contact their local college to see if they are eligible for the fund. Students should contact their local college to see if they are eligible for the fund.
Parents can check their entitlement regarding their child receiving free school meals at www.luton.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals or contact us on 01582 510346, email: email@example.com