Manchester City Council

Schools, education & childcare Free school meals: information for schools

Who gets free school meals?

To qualify for free school meals a child must:


  • live in the area covered by Manchester City Council
  • go to school in any area of Greater Manchester apart from Stockport
  • be aged up to 16, or if they are over 16 they must go to a school sixth-form 
  • if they go to nursery part-time, their session must go from before lunch to after lunch

Children who live in Manchester and go to school in Stockport need to apply to Stockport MBC for free school meals.

Children who live outside Manchester are considered by the council where they live.

Children over 16 do not qualify for free meals from us (Manchester City Council) if they go to a sixth-form college or a further education college. But from September 2014 they or their parents can apply to the college for free meals if they get a qualifying benefit or credit.

To qualify for free school meals from us the child's parent must be:

We prefer applications to be made online - but we will continue to deal with paper forms for the time being as schools still have stocks of them.

If you think a child should be getting free school meals, but you haven't heard from us, contact us for advice.

Free school meals for all 'infants' at school

From September 2014, all children at school in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 get free school meals.
But parents who get a qualifying benefit or credit still need to claim free school meals for their 'infant' from us so that their child is counted for the pupil premium for your school. Make sure they have filled in our form or claimed as part of their Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support claim so that the child's name will be on the list we send you.

Foster children, and children of asylum seekers

Foster children can't have free school meals. Foster parents receive an allowance to cover costs like this.

We don't provide free school meals for children of asylum seekers. It's up to the school to arrange meals. You can accept any of these documents as evidence that the family is seeking asylum:


  • an IS96 document
  • a standard acknowledgement letter (SAL) 1 or 2 
  • a letter from the Home Office 
  • a letter from a solicitor 
  • an application registration card (ARC)


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