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Free school meals

Some children attending Bedford Borough schools may be eligible for free school meals. The child must attend a school in Bedford Borough, although may live outside the local authority.

Your child might be able to get free school meals if you receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals. Your child might also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:

  • younger than the compulsory age for starting school
  • in full-time education

Complete a paper free school meal application form (Word) or apply for free school meals online:

If you are not contacted by the school or the free school meals administrator within three weeks of the application you can assume your application is unsuccessful.

  Apply for free school meals


If your child is eligible for free school meals, they’ll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2022.

If you change your address or have any questions please email 

Infant free school meals in England

Your child will be able to get free school meals if they’re in:

  • reception class
  • year one
  • year two

Tell your local authority if you also get any of the qualifying benefits and complete a universal free school meal registration form (Word). Your child’s school can get extra funding if you do.

Coronavirus update 

Children eligible to income-related free school meals are still entitled to receive their free school meal or a food voucher while schools are closed. This may be provided as a food parcel, a packed lunch or a food voucher which can be used in a number of different supermarkets. Please be aware that children who receive their meal under the ‘Universal Infant Free School Meals’ (for children in Year R, 1 and 2) scheme will not receive support whilst schools are closed unless they are also eligible for income-related free school meals.

The Department for Education has provided updated guidance for schools for children eligible for free school meals and introduced a National Food Voucher Scheme through Edenred; this has been made available to all eligible families. Further information on the voucher scheme can be found here.

If your child is already receiving income-related free school meals and you would like to know what meal options are available, please contact your child’s school.

If your personal circumstances have recently changed and you would like to check if your child is now eligible to receive income-related free school meals, please speak to your school or read our guidance above.

During the Coronavirus outbreak, we are temporarily extending free school meals eligibility to include some groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), including:
  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

These groups are also subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum.

We are also temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

This group is not subject to any maximum household earnings threshold.

This extension is temporarily in place due to the current unique circumstances. It covers both children who are attending school and children who are at home.

See guidance for the temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to NRPF groups for more information.

Please only use the form directly below if you think you are temporarily eligible for FSMs during COVID-19, otherwise, please use the link to the application earlier on this page. 

Apply for free schools meals