Free school meals

Free school meals and emergency food for children and families during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The National Voucher scheme is no longer operating as school kitchens will be open, normal free school meal provision will resume. It’s expected that catering providers will support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals who have to be at home for reasons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) by providing food parcels.

How can I access emergency food for my children and household and I am not in receipt of these benefits eligible for claiming free school meals?

If you are in need of food and emergency supplies then we may be able to help. As part of our approach to supplying food to those in need in the city at this time, we are able to provide emergency food parcels to those children/students attending primary and secondary schools, for families are struggling or facing difficult or challenging circumstances. This could be through your school, or your local Emergency Food Hub through the provision of a Foodbank voucher and household pack.

You may also be entitled to apply for a Community Support Grant, including a Crisis Fund.

You could also contact your local Family Hub, who will be able to talk  to you about what you and your children need and can provide you a food Bank voucher and help you access support through an Emergency Food Hub and other sources of help that you that need.

Beware of scams

We have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: 'As schools will be closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported.'

We can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond, and delete it immediately.

Free School Meals for families with no recourse to public funds

We have temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

These groups are:

  • children of Zambrano carers;
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction.

These groups are subject to a maximum household earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum.

We are also temporarily extending eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household earnings threshold

We are working with colleagues in children’s social care and partner organisations, who are likely already supporting these families, to identify those children that are now entitled.

Full details and how to check for eligibility.

Who does this not apply to?

Please note that these changes do not apply to children of EEA nationals who may also be in need as some are also not be entitled to claim benefits. For these children schools should use the emergency food parcel route.  Families should contact their school and arrangements can be put in place, or please contact the COVID-19 helpline and you will be issued a foodbank voucher to use at one of the 10 emergency food hubs.

What do I do if I think my children are now entitled to Free School meals?

You will need to contact your child’s school, and they will support you to complete a short application form which includes a self-declaration statement. They will then be able to provide you with free school meals, through a voucher system or alternative means.

Further help for people with no recourse to public funds

In a recent High Court case, the Home Office made a series of concessions for those who have leave to remain with a No Recourse to Public Funds endorsement.

They can apply to change their status if:

  • their financial circumstances have changed since being given permission to stay in the UK and they are no longer able to provide food or housing for themselves or their family;
  • their child is at risk because of very low income;
  • they had financial problems when they first applied but they did not provide evidence of this and now want to provide this evidence.

This is an opportunity for those who are finding it hard to manage to apply to vary the conditions of their leave to remain. This allows people who are now unable to work because of COVID-19 to have immediate access to welfare support.

Coventry Law Centre Immigration Team can provide assistance with this application and can be contacted via the Law Centre Helpline on 07946 881145 or 07957 711080, or email [email protected]

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