Free school meals Scotland: if children are still entitled to school dinners while off - and how to claim payment

With schools across Scotland now closed to all pupils, except vulnerable children and those of key workers, many kids will be missing out on their regular free school meals

In Scotland, every child who attends a local council school is eligible to get a free school lunch in primary 1, 2 and 3, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances.

Some children who are in funded childcare before they start school, such as early learning, can also receive free school meals.

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But what happens now that schools are closed?

Is your child entitled to free school meals? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Who can get free school meals?

Pupils in primary 1, 2 and 3 are automatically entitled to free school meals, and some children are still eligible to receive them after primary 3.

Your child is entitled to a free school lunch after primary 3 if you receive:

- Universal Credit (where your monthly income does not exceed £610)

- Income Support

- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance

- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance

- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

- Child Tax Credit, and your income is less than £16,105

Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, and an income of up to £6,900

If you are not receiving benefits or tax credit, your child might still be entitled to free school meals if you are experiencing financial hardship.

This could be because your immigration status means you cannot get help from the government, or you are still waiting on your first Universal Credit notice.

How do I get free school meals?

Children who normally get free school meals will still receive them, even while schools are currently closed.

To claim your free school meal, parents should visit their local council website for details on how meals will still be provided until schools reopen.

This may involve being issued a payment by your local council to cover the cost of the meals, such as in Edinburgh.

To find your local council, visit the government website.

How are free school meals being supported elsewhere?

In England, children who would normally receive free school meals are being given a £15 supermarket voucher instead while schools are closed.

The vouchers amount to £3 per day for each child - an increase of 70p on what schools are paid to provide free meals - and they will be redeemable in all major supermarkets in the UK.

In his daily press briefing, Boris Johnson promised that free school meals would continue, despite schools only being open for key workers’ children.

The move comes as catering firms have been criticised for the quality of food provided for the free school meals.

Parents can check if their child is eligible for free school meals, and now the temporary replacement voucher scheme, via the government website.

Any child who already receives free school meals will still qualify under the new scheme.

Schools are not normally expected to provide free school meals when kids are off sick, but this may differ under the voucher scheme.