Somerset County Council

Free school meals


Children who attend a Somerset County Council school, whose parents or carers receive certain benefits may be entitled to free school meals.

It is the responsibility of the parents or carers to register their entitlement and request provision of free school meals for their children.

While the majority of schools in Somerset use this free school meals service, one school has chosen not to.

Therefore, if your children attend Taunton Academy you will need to contact the school directly to apply for free school meals. Any applications for children who attend this school will not be processed by the Entitlements Team.

What are Free School Meals?

Free school meals are available to children whose parents qualify by meeting the criteria below. Children must be in school all day and they will be provided with a meal at lunchtime which is paid for by the school.

Children in pre-school or nursery (known as childcare providers) do not qualify for a free meal until they start school, but applications will be processed so that when your child starts school, you will already be notified if they qualify for a free school meal or not.  

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Who can use it?
Parents and carers who receive any of the following are entitled to free school meals:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support (IS) 
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related) - not Contribution related 
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance (IBJSA) - not Contribution based 
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit. 
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 
  • Child Tax Credit with an annual taxable income (as assessed by HMRC) of less than £16,190 as long as the family are not also in receipt of Working Tax Credit. 

If you have recently become unemployed, but are still receiving Working Tax Credits, you may be entitled to free school meals. Please phone us on 0300 123 2224 for advice.

Only the benefits listed above qualify for free school meals. No other benefit entitles the parent or carer to free school meals for their children.

How do I apply?

  1. Please complete the online form, print out a copy of the form from this page or contact us on 0300 123 2224 to ask for an application form.
  2. If you are filling in a paper form, take the completed paper form to your child's school, or send it to: Entitlements Team, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY. 

You do not need to send evidence with this application. If we need evidence at a later date we will contact you.

You no longer need to reapply for the same children as long as you remain entitled. Once we have your details on record we will do regular checks to see whether you are still entitled. To perform these checks we need up to date details. Therefore, you must let us know of any changes of benefit, name or address of the person in your household receiving the qualifying benefit. Incorrect details may lead us to believe that you are no longer entitled to free school meals. You can either tell us by writing to the Entitlements Team, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY, phoning the helpline number 0300 123 2224, or by emailing  You will need to submit a new application for any children you haven't previously applied for.

What happens next? 

We will enter your details onto an online system which will tell us whether you are entitled or not. We will tell you of the outcome, usually within 5 to 10 working days of getting the application. If you are eligible, we will tell you how to start receiving free school meals.

What is covered?

If your child is entitled to a free school meal, but requires a special medical diet we can arrange for an appropriate meal to be provided. You will need to ask your doctor to write a letter explaining which foods must be avoided.

Please contact us for further advice.

Universal Infant Free School Meals
Every child in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 is entitled to a Universal Infant Free School Meal. Each school is responsible for providing this and they may ask you to complete an application form to show that you require a meal for your child or children. Therefore, please contact your school to discuss arranging a meal or complete the Universal Infant Free School Meal application and hand it in to your child's school.


Contact: Children and Young People's Team
Address: Customer Contact, PO Box 618, Taunton, TA1 3WF
Phone: 0300 123 2224
Fax: 01823 321187
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.


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