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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 entitled to income-related free school meals or universal infant free school meals are again able to access these in schools, during the school term.

If your child is entitled to income-related free school meals and is required to isolate during the school term, they are still entitled to receive their free school meal. Please contact your child’s school to discuss what arrangements are available. Please note this does not apply to children receiving a meal under the universal infant free school meal scheme.

The government also have announced a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme; Local Authorities will be receiving their allocation of the grant in early December in order to directly help the hardest-hit families by providing access to food for children who need it over the Christmas and February school holidays.

We are currently working to secure a suitable Provider to issue supermarket vouchers directly to families eligible for income-related free school meals.  We are also working with our Children’s Centres to identify those children, under 5 years of age, who are in receipt of pupil premium funding so that they can also be supported through the grant.  We will be contacting eligible families directly in advance of the Christmas Holiday period. 

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 and apply online at Free school meals.

The most up to date free school meal guidance from the Department of Education can be found here 

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