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Free school lunch offer for primary school pupils

Find out how we are supporting families in Westminster during the cost of living crisis.

Published: 7 December 2022

Last updated: 3 January 2023

We are supporting families by offering free school lunches to pupils attending primary school in Westminster. The new offer will mean that all primary pupils in Years 3 through to 6 will now receive a free lunch, as well as students in reception and key stage 1 who are already receiving this offer. Children attending nursery places are not included in this offer.

Funding is being agreed for the next 18 months (January 2023 to the end of the summer term 2024), but there is an ambition to extend the offer.

The formal decision to expand free school meals for primary pupils was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet on Monday 12 December, you can view the papers here.

While the scheme means all primary school-aged pupils in Years 3 to 6 will receive a free lunch, families whose children are eligible for the government's Free School Meals should continue registering on GOV.UK. Your child can still access free activities and food over the school holidays as part of the government’s Holiday and Activity and Food programme. It also means your school will receive additional funding, known as the Pupil Premium.


Frequently asked questions

What type of meal will be offered?

Our aspiration is that every eligible child will receive a healthy hot lunch in line with the government’s healthy eating standards. However, we know this will require time for schools to mobilise and may not be possible in every school. Where a hot lunch cannot be offered, food vouchers to the value of £3 per day will be provided by schools to parents to pay for a packed lunch. Please speak to your child’s school for more information on how they will implement the scheme and the available food offer.  

My child is already receiving a Universal Free School Meal; what does this mean for them? 

All children in Key Stage 1 (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) already benefit from a national, government-wide Universal Free School Meal and will continue to benefit from this. A child moving into Year 3 from September 2023 at a Westminster primary school will continue to have access to a free school lunch which we will fund. 

My child lives in Westminster but attends an out-of-borough school. Are they eligible? 

This local scheme provides support to primary-aged pupils attending schools in Westminster. Local schools within the borough will roll it out, and it is not possible to implement it for pupils attending out-of-borough schools. 

What if I don’t want my child to access the Free School Lunch Offer?  

If your child does not need a free lunch offered through this initiative because you have sufficient lunch arrangements, please get in touch with your school to let them know that you would like to opt-out of the Free School Lunch Offer. This will enable the school to make the best use of the funds by providing other food provisions or directing the money to hardship funds which schools use to help families and pupils who are most in need.

Parents and families who would like to support the local community and schools can do so by contacting their child's school directly or donating to our Community Contribution Fund, which was created to give Westminster residents the opportunity to give more to their local community, on a voluntary basis.

Why is funding only being made available to primary school children?  

We can only extend the Free School Lunch Offer to every primary-aged child attending a state-funded primary school within Westminster. This does not cover nursery and secondary school pupils. We will continue to monitor the cost-of-living crisis and allocate funding to reach as many residents as possible through various initiatives.