3:17 pm, Wednesday, 13th January 2021

Free school meals during lockdown

The guidance regarding free school meals for pupils has been published on Gov.uk.

Guidance Summary

For pupils who are in school, including vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, meals should be available free of charge to:

  • all infant pupils
  • pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria

Schools have the option to decide upon the best approach for pupils – this includes lunch parcels, local vouchers or DfE national voucher scheme which reopens on 18 January.

Schools will be able to claim additional funding:

  • up to £3.50 per eligible pupil, per week, where lunch parcels are being provided – we strongly encourage this approach where it is feasible


  • up to £15 per eligible pupil, per week, where vouchers for local shops or supermarkets are being provided

During the period from 4 January to 16 January, if parents have received an inadequate lunch parcel that does not meet the standard expected, the school will be able to claim retrospectively for a locally arranged voucher. Details on how and when additional costs can be reclaimed will be published shortly.

The national voucher scheme will be available during lockdown up to the week beginning 8 February. This guidance will be regularly reviewed and will expire when schools are no longer asked to limit attendance. At February half term the LA will provide funds from the Winter Grant Scheme to cover the voucher costs for FSM pupils.

Schools will receive an email from Edenred by 14 January, advising how to either reset your password or activate your account for the first time. Vouchers can be 2 weekly or same household as before. E code vouchers can be sent directly to parents/carers or schools can print the eGift card for collection.

Supermarkets available are:-

  • Aldi
  • Iceland
  • McColl’s
  • Morrisons
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Asda
  • Waitrose
  • M&S
  • Company Shop Group

Schools can purchase vouchers for other supermarkets and claim back the costs.

Find out more about free school meals and apply.

Search for other money and benefits advice.