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Children and Schools - Transition to the new normal

Free School Meals and Cashless Catering

Free School Meals

Parents/Guardians of pupils in receipt of Free School Meals will receive a Free School Meals payment every fortnight that the pupils are distance learning, until they return to school. Payment for the period from the 4th January to Friday 15th January will be in parent’s bank accounts on Monday the 11th January.

The next payment covering the period 18th January to the 29th January will be in parent’s bank account on Monday the 18th January and fortnightly thereafter.

The fortnightly payments will be £39.00 per child eligible for free school meals.  

Please email if you have any queries or on 01437 775912, 01437 775922 or 01437 775250.


New full time pupils

Parents of pupils who should have started school on a full time basis from the 4th January and have older siblings who are eligible for free school meals should contact the Free school meals eligibility team at to register their child as free school meal eligible.

Privacy Notice - Free School Meals  

Application for free school meals


Cashless Catering in Secondary Schools

Our Catering Service have considered the safest and most appropriate way of providing meals to pupils using Cashless Catering. For those secondary schools offering a school meal provision when the schools reopen the following measures will apply:

  • The Biometric (fingerprint) payment option will be withdrawn until further notice 
  • Pupils who currently use the Biometric option and therefore do not have Cashless cards will be provided with a new card at the school.
  • Any pupils who have lost/damaged their Cashless cards can request a new one from the school canteen
  • Any staff wishing to purchase food will also need to request a Cashless card
  • No cash will be accepted in schools
  • Coin-loader machines in schools will only be used to check balances by scanning the Cashless cards.
  • Meal accounts can be topped up online through My Account or by phoning the Council Contact Centre on 01437 764551

To request a meal account number, or for any further information, please email

ID: 6592, revised 19/04/2021