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Free School Meals

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL390, tabled on 17 June 2014

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are putting in place to encourage increased up-take of free school meals among eligible pupils.

Answered on

23 June 2014

We have developed the Online Free School Meal Eligibility Checking Service (ECS), which is a system that allows local authority users to undertake record checks from one central point. The ECS allows local authorities to check data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in order to establish eligibility for free school meals (FSM). The ECS has been extended to allow parents to check their own eligibility, and to apply online, for FSM. The new system reduces the time, stigma and bureaucracy previously associated with applications for FSM, therefore encouraging more parents to register their children for a free school lunch.

Resources are also available from the Children's Food Trust at http://www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk/ to help schools increase take-up of free school meals.

From September 2014, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 attending state-funded schools will be eligible for a free school lunch, regardless of parental circumstances.