Free School Meals: Everything you need to know

With the government announcing that it will not be providing free school meal vouchers during the summer holiday many parents have been left wondering how they will feed their kids over the break.

Free school meals eligibility 

On our platform we have seen an uptick in members of our community starting fundraisers so they can feed children in their local area during the school holidays. We have compiled a round up of the support that’s available across the UK.

Read on to find out about free school meals eligibility and what help is available to you.

In England, the first three years of all infant state schools can get free school meals so that is reception, year one and year two.

Children of all ages – from nursery to sixth form – may be eligible if they live in households receiving income-related benefits, including:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Universal credit

In order to make a claim you must have a household earning a maximum income of £7,400 a year after tax, not including benefits.

The household-income threshold in Scotland and Wales is also £7,400. In Northern Ireland it is £14,000.

What support is available to families over the summer period?


This year the government is not directly funding free school meal vouchers or food packages. It has said it will run the holiday activities and food programme. The scheme is funded by the government and implemented by local councils. It consists of providing a host of activities and healthy food to children who are eligible for free school meals during term time. It runs for four weeks during the summer holidays. 

Many councils have also launched school meal schemes throughout the summer holidays using the Household Support Fund. This is a grant of £500 million distributed between local authorities to help households who need it most. However whether or not the fund is used to provide free meals to children in the summer holidays is at your local council’s discretion so may vary in different areas.


If you are eligible for benefits in Scotland you will be able to get free school meals support from your local council.

The amount of funds you will be eligible for will depend on where you live. 

Low income families may also be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payment. This is four payments of £130 made at Easter, Summer, October and Christmas.


The Welsh Government has vowed to provide free school meals during the Easter and Summer holidays and have invested £21.4m into the project.

Councils in Wales will provide low-income families with meal vouchers, money or packed lunches to cover the full period of the summer holidays.

Northern Ireland

The Department of Education in Northern Ireland has also pledged a sum of money dedicated to supporting low income families feed their children over the summer holidays.

The grant will run from July 1 to August 31, 2022. Low-income families will receive £13.50 a week, which will automatically be paid into bank accounts in two installments.

Set up a fundraiser

A number of schools have launched their own initiatives to help low income families who may be struggling over the summer holidays, offering school clubs and activities over the break.

Case study

Stroud Green School has launched a fundraiser so they can support families over the summer break. 

Writing on their campaign they said: “This is of course a national issue but the fact remains that there will be members of our school community who are unable to afford food for their children this summer.”

So far they have raised more than £3,000.

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Case study

One of a Kind is a special needs club that has been launched by three families in Hampshire, England with children who have special needs.

They started a fundraiser after they realised that there were no activities on offer in the UK that were appropriate for children with additional needs.

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 Non governmental support 

UK retailers tackling food insecurity

Some of the UK’s biggest retailers have announced initiatives to help families struggling during the summer holidays.

Morrisions has said a child under 16 can eat for free at its cafés when you buy an adult meal worth at least £4.99.

Meanwhile Asda has said kids across England and Wales can eat for £1 at any time of the day in its cafes.

View a full list of the UK retailers offering initiatives to help kids eat for less this summer here.


Support others fundraising to provide free school meals over the summer

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    Start a GoFundMe

    If you would like to start a fundraiser to support school children during the summer holidays it couldn’t be easier. You can set up a fundraiser in less than three minutes and we have a support team who are on hand to help with any queries you may have.