Free school meals guidance and COVID summer food fund deadline

14 Jul 2020

COVID-19 summer food fund guidance

The government has announced a COVID-19 summer food fund which will support children who are eligible for free school meals with a voucher to cover the full six weeks summer holiday period. Note deadline for ordering:

You must order at least one week before term ends. Vouchers will be issued to families within 7 days unless you have specified a later distribution date.

The scheme includes providing support where needed for year 6, year 11 and year 13 pupils who were confirmed as eligible and claiming benefits-related free school meals during the summer term, regardless of whether they remain registered with the school.

Where applicable, the school that the pupil is leaving is responsible for ordering the pupil’s free school meals for the Covid Summer Food Fund at least one week before the end of the school term.

There are no plans for the scheme to continue beyond summer, and those eligible will be those already on free school meals. Full details can be found here:

In March, the government announced that low-income families whose children are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Read the government guidance for the COVID summer food fund.

Who is eligible?

Both parents and schools can check with the local authority (LA) which pupils are eligible. Many schools will hold this data in their MIS system or on the free school meals portal. There are many families who are currently eligible but have not registered for free school meals and will be unknown to the school. Your LA contacts are the pupil support service 020 8825 5566

Check eligibility with Ealing Council

Key workers and other vulnerable groups attending school who are not entitled to free school meals are expected to pay as usual for provision of meals if they wish to have them.

On Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM), the government has advised that free meals will only be provided for Infant age pupils who meet the free school meals eligibility criteria or are attending school under current government guidelines (vulnerable or key worker criteria, and Reception and Year 1). There is no requirement to provide universal infant free school meals to infant pupils who are not in school.

Support for pupils who have to stay at home

The government expects schools to continue supporting children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home.

The steps you take will depend on your circumstances. This could include:

  • providing meals or food parcels through your food provider
  • using the Department for Education’s (DfE) centrally-funded national voucher scheme
  • providing alternative vouchers for a local shop or supermarket


Speak to your school catering team (in house) or school catering provider to see if they can prepare meals or food parcels that could be delivered to or collected by families.

Schools have different approaches to how they currently provide free meals to disadvantaged children. Many schools are part of the Ealing Schools Catering Consortium (ESCC) serviced by Harrison Catering, PFI catering arrangements and a small number of other arrangements.

LA contacts:

Harrison’s Group managers are:

  • Kevin Rice – 07919100258
  • Kerry Brown - 07833 050825
  • Graham Simpson - 07825 621689
  • Godwin Williams – 07740582402

The PFI contracts mangers are:

  • PFI 1 Gustavo Abreau - 07825 0783 49
  • PFI 2 Clinton Adams - 07467 442791
  • PFI 3 Paul Boothman - 07866 123 064

How schools are protecting staff and helping families get free school meals

National voucher scheme with Edenred

The DfE announced details of the national voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals on 31 March 2020. Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus. Initial guidance was that the scheme was applicable to term time only but DfE subsequently extended it will also be applicable to the Easter ad May half term holidays.

DfE advise that, as schools open more widely and their kitchens reopen, they expect schools 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 this is not possible, the voucher scheme allows schools to provide vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.

The vouchers can be spent on food at a range of shops including Aldi, Asda, M&S, McColl’s, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

Read the free school meals portal user guide (pdf).

Where schools have issues obtaining national vouchers, Edenred can be contacted by email at Where parents have issues obtaining national vouchers, they can contact Edenred by email at Where schools continue to have problems and are unable to contact Edenred, please contact Laurence Field at Ealing Children’s Services for further assistance.

Free school meals eligibility for families with no recourse to public funds

The government has temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

The application form is available at the following link: Families can apply if they are from these groups:

  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

These groups are also subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £31,500 per annum.

The government is also temporarily extending eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household earnings threshold.

This extension is temporarily in place to support families facing difficulties due to the current unique circumstances. It covers both children who are attending school and children who are at home.

16 to 19 providers with an allocation for free meals in further education are now able to apply to the national voucher scheme

Schools with 16 – 19 pupils are included in the national voucher scheme for schools to provide vouchers to families eligible for free school meals.

Other 16 – 19 providers with an allocation for free meals will now be able to apply to the national voucher scheme, with the value of the vouchers being claimed back via Free Meals in FE/ 16 – 19 Discretionary Bursary allocations. Providers will need to submit a business case to the ESFA. You will also need to submit a business case if you need to apply for additional funding to cover support for student meal costs that you cannot service from your existing Free Meals in FE or 16 – 19 Discretionary Bursary allocations.

Assistance for those unable to collect their food pack/vouchers or access eVouchers

Schools are asking parents to contact the school if they are unable to collect their food pack/vouchers or are unable to access an evoucher.

Social distancing and self-isolation

Schools are reminding parents, students and staff of the social distancing and self-isolation government guidance and asking parents to send a friend or relative if they or their household have symptoms. Providing staff with PPE, reminding staff about regular hand washing when distributing food packs or vouchers, and keeping collection in a designated location to minimise circulation around the school site.

Primary schools unexpected closure protocol and proposed school partners

What happens to pupils’ free school meals entitlement at the receiving school, who provides their lunch day to day?

Attending - The school who is accepting/receiving children from a closed school will provide meals. In most cases this will be in small numbers. The receiving school should keep records of these costs along with any other additional costs of FSM provision. The closing school should aim to provide information on the number of meals likely to be required so the receiving school can prepare.

Not attending but eligible for FSM support - schools are moving away from providing daily meals and are moving to food parcels or vouchers for 1 to 2 weeks and therefore should plan to continue this provision. Where this is not possible the closing school should contact the LA.

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Last updated: 21 Jul 2020

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