Apply for 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.

Who is eligible for free school meals?

Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • 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 guarantee 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

A pupil is only eligible to receive a free school meal when a claim for the meal has been made on their behalf and their eligibility, or protected status, has been verified by the school where they are enrolled or by the local authority.

Transactional protection

In addition, the following pupils will be protected against losing their free school meals as follows:

  • Since 1 April 2018, all existing free school meals claimants have continued to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This applies even if their earnings rise above the threshold during that time.
  • Any pupil gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals until March 2025.
  • After March 2025, any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).

How to apply for free school meals

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

Apply for free school meals

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.

Universal infant free school meals

Your child will be able to receive universal infant free school meals during term time if they’re in:

  • reception class
  • year one
  • year two

We encourage all parents to complete the universal infant free school meals form as this means your child’s school can get extra funding if you do qualify. Please tell us if you also get any of the qualifying benefits. 

Please complete a Universal infant free school meal registration form (Word) or apply online: 

Apply for universal infant free school meals

Tell us about a change in your contact details

Please email if you change your home address, email address, contact number, or if you have any questions. 

You can also read the Department of Education's free school meals guidance for schools and local authorities for more information.