Free School Meals (FSM)
Did you know that your child could qualify for free school meals? That means no bills but delicious, healthy meals for your children.
Data shows that between three to five per cent of school children could be missing out on the extra cash – which makes it between around 200,000 to 350,000 children in England. It also shows that families in the South East of England are less likely to register their children for FSM, even when they are entitled to them.
School meals will give your child a real appetite for learning and help them to achieve their full potential. There is nothing healthier for your child and your family’s budget than free school meals. As someone else is preparing the meals for your child, it saves you having to worry about the effort and expense of making packed lunches every day.
In January 2011 about 1.2 million pupils were known to be eligible for FSM. The Government recognises the benefits of healthy school meals and is committed to continuing to provide free school meals to families who need them. Schools realise that healthy school meals can help to improve children’s readiness to learn and their behaviour at school, and can also help to establish healthy eating habits for life.
Registering your child for FSM not only benefits your child and you but also generates additional financial help for the school to spend on eligible students. It is also the criteria we use to help determine eligibility for additional financial assistance for trips, equipment and financial assistance in 6th form.
Registering for FSM is confidential. While taking a meal is free, they are optional. Registering will help you access additional financial support even if your child does not eat the free meal regularly. If you think that one or more of the following criteria applies to you then please register.
Parents in England do not have to pay for school meals if they receive any of the following:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- An income-related employment and support allowance
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
- Parents receiving Working Tax Credit for four weeks after their employment finishes are entitled to free school meals during that period. This also applies to parents who start working less than 16 hours per week.
- Children who receive Income Support or income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance in their own right qualify as well.
From 6 April 2012, Working Tax Credit rules for couples have changed and because of the increase in the number of hours a couple has to work in order to qualify, some families may have lost their entitlement to Working Tax Credit.
Those families may be entitled to free school meals if they now satisfy any of the above criteria.
Please register before Christmas to make sure your child does not miss out.
How does it work?
- First, check if you qualify – it is not just if you are unemployed, so please look at the list above.
- Registering is really quick and easy – if you think you qualify, contact Herts County Council who will help you to register.
- If you want your child to have a free, healthy meal at lunchtime that’s great – they will get the free meal (saving you more than £400 a year), plus extra benefits and the school gets £600 extra.
- If you don’t want your child to have the school meals they can continue as normal – as long as you qualify and are registered, the school still gets £600 extra.
No one will know you have registered and it will not affect any other benefits you are claiming. Our cashless catering system aids anonymity so no other pupils will know.
Pupils can also register for Free School Meals if they get any of these benefits themselves.
How Do I Apply?
Please follow this link
https://www.hertsdirect.org/services/edlearn/canhelp or please contact the Herts Education Benefits Team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 123 4048.