Coronavirus (Covid-19)

If you've been identified as extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 by the NHS and need to self-isolate, call 0800 408 1447 for support.

Advice for everyone on coronavirus is available on our website or on 01926 410410.

Free school meals

Updated 22 June 2020

Schools should provide meal options for all children attending school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria.

If your child usually receives free school meals and is not attending school, then the school should provide you with an alternative.

As school kitchens reopen, schools will be expected to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are staying at home. Where schools are not able to provide meals or food parcels for children who are at home, they can continue to offer vouchers to families of eligible pupils.

Parents/carers should contact their child’s school to find out which option their school is providing.

We know due to coronavirus (Covid-19) there is increased pressure on household budgets, and it is recognised that families will face particular challenges over the coming months. That is why the Department for Education are providing additional funding for a summer food scheme.

The Department for Education (DfE) said families of children eligible for free school meals will be provided with a voucher “to cover the full six week summer holiday", further information and guidance will follow shortly.

If you still find yourself in financial difficulty, then the Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme may be able to help, please call on 0800 408 1448 and speak with one of our advisers.

Families can apply for Free School Meals at any time online through the Parent Portal or call Customer Service Centre: on 01926 359189 (Mon – Thu: 9am – 5pm, Fri: 9am – 4:30pm).

Frequently asked questions for parents and carers

Question Answer
Who should provide Free School Meals to eligible children? All Primary, Secondary, Special Schools and Alternative Providers are responsible for putting in place arrangements for providing support for children eligible for Free School Meals. This can either be by providing meals (collect or delivered) or purchase and supply supermarket/local shop vouchers.
What options are available for children eligible for free school meals? Where possible the DfE have encouraged schools to work with their catering suppliers to see if they can continue to provide free school meals, either for collection or delivery as food parcels. If this is not possible schools are able to provide supermarket vouchers either via the national voucher scheme or providing a local supermarket/shop voucher/gift card.
What about children still attending school?

If children are attending school, then meals should be provided for pupils who would normally receive free school meals (children who are eligible for benefits related free school meals).

For those children in Reception and Year 1 attending school from 01 June onwards they will receive a free meal under the universal infant free school policy.

Will every child at home due to school closures receive free school meals support? Only if they are eligible for benefits-related free school meals.
What about infants that receive a free meal under universal infant free school meals?

It is right that schools concentrate their effort and resources on those who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals at this time.

For those children in Reception and Year 1 attending school from 01 June onwards they will receive a free meal under the universal infant free school policy.

There is no requirement to continue to provide universal infant free school meals to pupils in Reception, Year 1, or Year 2 who are unable to attend school. Children in those year groups who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals will be supported.

What about students in further education (FE)? We know that FE institutions are already supporting many students who are entitled to free meals, contact your son or daughter’s college for further advice.
Where a family’s circumstances change and pupils become newly eligible for free school meals, can families make an application for free schools meals? Yes - schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications. Parents should make contact with the school or local authority, who will verify eligibility and award free school meals.
How can I apply for free school meals?

You can apply online through the Parent Portal

The qualifying benefits for free school meals can also be found on the free school meals page.

If I have no access to the internet to apply for free school meals, what do I need to do? Call Customer Service Centre: Telephone: 01926 359189 (Mon – Thu: 9am – 5pm, Fri: 9am – 4:30pm)
I have just started claiming Universal Credit will I receive free school meals immediately?

No, there will be delay between applying and having your application approved.

In the meantime, you may be able to access the Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme by calling 0800 4081448 or 01926 359182 or email [email protected] with your name and telephone number and we will call you back.

How does the national voucher scheme work?

National voucher scheme

Where possible the DfE have encouraged schools to work with their catering suppliers to see if they can continue to provide free school meals, either for collection or delivery as food parcels. The national voucher scheme is an alternative where that is not possible for some schools.

The scheme is an online service for schools, allowing them to place orders for supermarket gift cards on behalf of parents and carers. These are worth £15 a week per child and families can receive codes by email to redeem themselves, or as a gift card by post to families without internet access.

Which supermarkets are included? Aldi, Asda, M&S, McColl's, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose are signed up to the scheme, the DfE are working with a wide range of supermarkets to encourage them to join – this involves them having the right infrastructure to deliver gift cards. On Tuesday 21 April, supermarket Aldi confirmed it had signed up to the national voucher scheme and parents will be able to order Aldi vouchers from the week commencing 27 April.
Can schools choose which supermarkets they get vouchers for?

Yes. Schools and parents can select the most convenient supermarket, from a choice of six currently available.

Where these six supermarkets are not the most convenient or appropriate, schools can provide local solutions to make sure eligible children get a free meal – including buying vouchers for other shops that are more convenient for their families to visit, for which schools will be reimbursed. Providing these vouchers is not part of the national scheme

What can the vouchers be spent on? Families are free to select the most appropriate food and drink for their child. When selecting products, we encourage families to consider health and nutrition. The School Food Standards may act as a useful guide for families. The vouchers should not be redeemed for any age-restricted items, such as alcohol, cigarettes or lottery tickets. There are a number of online resources available to support families in preparing healthy and nutritious food, including on the NHS Eat Well website.
How do parents redeem their code? Once they have received their codes parents can visit the redemption website to redeem their code. Edenred has put an online queuing system in place due to the very high demand on this part of the service.
What about families that do not have access to the internet, to access the vouchers on-line?

Schools are best placed to decide how to support eligible families in their areas with access to free school meals.

Where schools want to provide supermarket eGift cards to families that do not have access to emails, the school may choose to:

  • print and post the eGift cards to families
  • arrange for families to collect their vouchers

Further information about the national voucher scheme

Other sources of support for parents/carers

The Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme helps the most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis.

It provides basic and essential help for food and energy. This is provided either in emergency food parcels or with credit for energy.

The Scheme also provides help to those whose needs are more long term, who are vulnerable through an ongoing set of circumstances rather than an immediate crisis. This includes people that are care leavers, victims of domestic violence, former armed forces personnel, or those resettling in a community after a custodial term. Help might take the form of help in furnishing accommodation with basic furniture and appliances.

The Local Welfare Scheme will also signpost customers in the direction of other agencies and organisations who can offer help and support.

The Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme can be contacted on:

Telephone: 0800 408 1448 or 01926 359182

Email: [email protected]

The Welfare Scheme are currently receiving an exceptionally high volume of enquiries, your patience at this time is appreciated.