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Derbyshire parents with children entitled to free school meals urged not to miss out

Parents are being urged by Derbyshire County Council during National School Meals Week not to miss out on the free school meals their child may be entitled to.

Families can save more than £400 a year for each child and they will benefit from a hot, healthy, nutritious meal at lunchtime. 

Parents who apply are not only helping their family but also supporting their child’s school. Schools receive a £1,000 Pupil Premium per year from the Government for each of their pupils eligible for free school meals.

This money supports teaching and facilities as well as trips and activities for the whole school.

The council is using National School Meals Week, which runs until Friday (November 15), to urge all parents to register for free school meals – even if their child is benefitting from Universal Infant Free School Meals or prefers to bring a packed lunch as the school can still benefit from their Pupil Premium.

And to help encourage parents to register for free school meals the council’s school catering service is running a promotional campaign throughout November.

This will include school caterers visiting primary schools across Derbyshire to promote their meals, share information about free school meals and the quality of the meals including the Food for Life School Award.

They will also be handing out free samples to parents, carers, grandparents or other family members who are collecting or dropping off children. 

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Young People Councillor Alex Dale said: “A lot of families aren't applying for the free school meals their children are entitled to. Sometimes they don’t think they’re eligible – or they may not want other people to know they need help.

“Parents don’t need to worry about other people knowing their child gets free school meals. They are offered the same food and sit in the same area and only the school will know.

“Children don't have to have their meal every day, but it will save parents money and time in making a packed lunch while also boosting school funds to benefit all pupils.

“Our school catering service serves up around 50,000 healthy, well-balanced, hot, nutritious meals to children across Derbyshire every day and we don’t want any child to miss out on this important part of their school day which can help them stay fit and healthy and support good learning.” 

All children and young people aged five to 18 at Derbyshire schools can benefit from free school meals if they qualify. 

Children may be able to get free school meals if parents (or the child or young person themselves where appropriate) receive any of the following:

• Universal Credit, provided they have an annual net earned income not exceeding £7,400 (£616.67 per month)
• Income Support
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
• The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
• Child Tax Credit (provided the family is not also entitled to Working Tax Credit (WTC) and has an annual gross income of no more than £16,190) as assessed by HMRC
• Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for four weeks after a family stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Families can sign up for free school meals at any time of year and either parent can claim for their child as long as they live at the same address.

Parents do not have to fill in a separate form for each child even if they go to different schools – just name the child and which school they go to.

If a sibling starts school where another child already has free school meals, they can be added to the existing application by calling call the county council’s free school meals team on 01629 536481 or 01629 536400.

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