How to apply for free School Meals

It is now easier than ever for families to apply for free school meals, especially as applicants do not usually need to provide paper proof of benefit.

New Applications

Parents/Carers should apply for free school meals via:

making it more convenient and easier than ever for families entitled to education benefits to access support.

How to use the new services

Applicants using a Smartphone just need to go to the Android Market or iTunes App Store and search lookinglocal to download the app.

DigiTV users follow the menu choices depending on their service.


  1. Go to channel 539 – The Community Channel
  2. Press red
  3. Choose Southern England
  4. South East
  5. Hertfordshire


  1. Press Home
  2. Choose interactive
  3. Choose News & Info
  4. Looking Local
  5. Choose Southern England
  6. South East
  7. Hertfordshire
  8. Hertfordshire

Or …

  1. Go to channel 233 – The Community Channel
  2. Press Red
  3. Choose Southern England
  4. South East
  5. Hertfordshire
  6. Hertfordshire

Currently 50% of applications for free school meals are made online. The launch of the new service means that even more families will be able to apply quickly and easily for the benefits they are entitled to and that will make a real difference to their lives, and to the attainment of their children in school.

Since the introduction of the Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) (previously called the Hub), most applicants do not need to provide paper proof of benefit. As soon as their application is submitted, HCC will check using the ECS whether the parent/carer qualifies for free school meals and advise them of the outcome immediately.

The ECS can only be used to check for free school meal eligibility, so parents/carers who are applying for other educational benefits available in Hertfordshire (namely remission of music fees, SaverCard, TrainCard and cycle training fees) will still be required to provide paper proof of benefit (unless they are applying for free school meals at the same time).

Please note: Free School Meals will not be provided to students until eligibility has been confirmed.


During the summer HCC automatically renews applications in readiness for the new academic year. This means parents will not receive a renewal letter and do not need to re-apply. HCC will only write to those families where routine checks show them to be no longer entitled to support. If parents/carers believe that they still meet the eligibility criteria, they can make a new application against which HCC will carry out further checks.

Applicants who remain eligible will not receive a letter and can assume their child will continue to receive free school meals.

Changes Under Universal Credit

The eligibility criteria for free school meals have been changed. This letter explains the changes and how they might affect you.

Change of Schools

Please only contact HCC if your child changes school outside the normal transfer timetable.

Hertfordshire County Council introduces new, convenient, ways to apply for free school meals.