Eligible families save £400 a year per child on school meals thanks to our help

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

We’ve helped an extra 1,183 children by automatically enrolling them for free school meals if they’re eligible.  
The move has saved households on the lowest incomes an average of £400 per child a year by not paying for school lunches, at a cost of £2.60 a day.

Schools have benefited too with Pupil Premium Funding that is awarded for each child that receives a free school meal. The money is used to provide more support to disadvantaged pupils.

“We discovered that many parents were not applying for free school meals. By identifying and automatically enrolling children we have created a win-win situation for families and schools. 

“At a time when so many residents are struggling financially, it’s vital we find ways to help them with reducing their costs. 

“By introducing this measure, we are achieving one of our key priorities of supporting families on a low income. 

“Wakefield Council is one of only a handful of local authorities in the country to have introduced this scheme but it can make all the difference as pupils are guaranteed a nutritious meal.”

Councillor Margaret Isherwood

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Councillor Margaret Isherwood

Nationally, around one in ten pupils who are entitled to free school meals are missing out because their parents are not aware of their eligibility or haven’t applied. 
Last summer, our staff looked at the information we hold, to find children in both primary and secondary education who could potentially claim free school meals.  
Those identified were sent letters informing them that they would be auto enrolled unless they opted out. 

The majority signed up with only 12 opting out. 

Now, an additional 929 primary schoolchildren, and 251 pupils attending secondary schools can ask for free school meals at lunchtime.

We plan to continue automatic enrolment but you can check to see if your child is eligible and apply online here: Free school meals - Wakefield Council

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