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School Meals

Frequently Asked Questions

Only complete the application form if you are a Tameside Resident

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Why choose school meals?

  • School meals offer a selection of freshly cooked main meals and desserts every day, often including pasta, salad, fresh fruit and yoghurt. And only £2 a day. From 1st September 2014 this will increase to £2.05.
  • A number of schools offer a pre-order system where you and your child can order the daily main course option in advance.
  • All meals are nutritionally balanced over the course of our 3 week cycle and are served by friendly and cheerful catering staff. Children can sit down together and enjoy their meal whilst at the same time developing social skills of eating together that are so important in later life.
  • A well fed and happy child is more likely to be receptive to participating in the afternoon's activities.
  • Convenience. Someone else preparing and cooking lunch for your child saves you worrying about a packed meal every day.

Universal Infant Free School Meals

From September schools will be offering all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 a free school meal. The Government are introducing Infant Free School Meals following an independent review of school food which found that where all children had been given a free school meal they were months ahead of their peers in their school work.

Schools that provide meals to Primary school children

The current menu will be available from 1st September 2014

For further details of the School Meals Menu

Currently the Universal Infant Free School Meals capital grant should cover the cost of the additional equipment and furniture.

Find more information on the Government website.

How do I pay for my child's meals?

You can now pay for your school meals on-line here using a credit/debit card. Where you pay by credit card it will be necessary for you to pick up the charges imposed by credit card companies on the Council for this facility and therefore you will incur a further 2% administration fee if you choose to pay by credit card.

You can also pay by cheque at any of our In Touch Customer Service Centres or by cash at Ashton Customer Services.

You can also pay by sending dinner money into school on a weekly basis. The school will advise which day of the week is most convenient (usually each Monday).

Free School Meals

Free school meals are offered to children of families who are on low income in receipt of Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related), Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income based) or Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit. They are also offered to children of families who are in receipt of Child Tax Credit only, but who are not entitled to Working Tax Credit, and whose annual income (as assessed by the Inland Revenue) does not exceed £16,190.00. If you are in receipt of Child Tax Credit, you will need to attend one of the Council's Customer Service Centre’s and present your Child Tax Credit award notice.

How do I apply for free school meals?

There are 4 easy ways to apply for free school meals:

  • complete the e-claim for Housing and Council Tax Support which includes the option to apply for Free School Meals
  • complete the on-line application form*
  • telephone the council's call centre on 0161 342 8355
  • in person at one of the council's Customer Services Offices

Free School Meals can be claimed by Parents or Guardians of pupil’s who are on a low income. All claims will be processed by the Benefits Section at Tameside Council with the target date of 3 days.

Eligible income includes Universal Credit, Income Support, JSA(IB), Guaranteed Credit, ESA(IR), Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) provided the Household income does not exceed £16,190 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs.

With effect from the 1 September 2013 children aged 16-18 can also receive free school meals where they attend an establishment where school provision is provided.

These establishments are:

  • All Saints Catholic College
  • Audenshaw School Academy Trust
  • Droylsden Academy
  • New Charter Academy
  • Hyde Community College

*The on-line form can be completed directly by you only if you are in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) or the Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit otherwise you should apply as part of a Housing and Council Tax Support claim or come in person to our Customer Services Offices.

How often do I have to apply?

You should apply when you first start to receive benefit. You will receive automatic notification when your application is due for renewal.

How is it paid?

High School children receive tokens to purchase their midday meals at school on a weekly basis. Primary School children are simply marked into the dinner register, whether free or paid meals, and receive a school meal each day.

What if my circumstances change?

You should notify the school and also the Benefits Department of any changes:

  • if you start work and come off benefit
  • if your income increases
  • if you change address
  • if your child changes school

Special diets

We are happy to accommodate cultural diets. Halal provision is available at the following schools within the borough: Greenfield Primary, Leigh Primary, Flowery Field Primary, St James CE Primary, St Peter’s CE Primary, Holy Trinity CE Primary, Holden Clough Community Primary, Ashton West End Primary, St Stephen’s CE Primary and The Heys Primary.

Medical diets can be provided. Please let your school know if your child has been prescribed a medical diet and we will liaise with you, the school and the dietician. Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can help your child enjoy their lunch.

What is Tameside doing to improve my child's diet?

All our permanent staff are fully trained in all aspects of Food Hygiene, Health and Safety, Customer Care, Nutrition plus many other areas.

We believe that there is no nutritional value in a meal that is simply thrown away, no matter how good the ingredients may be at the start. We work very hard to strike the balance between providing nutritionally balanced, quality meals and value for money to satisfy the energy needs of children.

Here are some of the ways we plan our menus:

  • We currently offer a 3 choice menu in all schools every day, including at least 1 home made and 1 vegetarian choice. 
  • From 1st September 2014 a number of schools will offer a grab bag in place of the sandwich option on that days menu. The grab bag will include a sandwich, portion of salad, biscuit/tray bake, piece of fruit and a drink.
  • All menus meet the Food Based and Nutrient Based Standards for School Lunches. Menus may be subject to alteration owing to delivery or other problems.
  • We work with suppliers to source low fat, low salt and low sugar alternatives.
  • We also offer two choices of carbohydrate each day, including pasta and rice. In addition bread is also available every day.
  • Chips and Roast Potatoes are each currently only served once per week. No other products on the menu are deep fried.
  • A salad bar is available every day in all schools and an optional choice during the winter months.
  • During the winter, in schools where it is popular, soup is offered as 1 of the 2 vegetable choices.
  • Dessert choices each day include 1 hot dessert, 1 cold dessert, fresh-fruit and yoghurt
  • Drinks each day include water, fruit juice and milk.
  • Our kitchen staff work in partnership with the Headteacher to ensure that the Menu is 'tailored' to the needs of their customers
  • The Foundation Menu is displayed on the councils web-site for inspection by any person
  • We work with parents and dieticians to provide special diets where necessary.

What are the benefits of my child having a school meal?

  • Provides a balanced meal which improves concentration and learning in the afternoon.
  • Introduces your child to a wide range of foods
  • Children can sit down at a table together and enjoy a meal, whilst at the same time developing the social skills of eating together.
  • Saves parents valuable time, money and energy in preparing packed lunches. Many packed lunches are very high in fat, sugar and additives.

What's New

Feedback we receive from parents says you want us to carry on promoting healthy eating. It is our policy to 'encourage' our customers to take a balanced diet through a wide range of initiatives, including:

  • Where counter space allows, Milk Dispensers have been introduced into school kitchens where children can help themselves to ice cold milk as part of their school meal each day.
  • We have worked in partnership with Dental Health, Community Dietician and Community Health Workers to produce a generic School Food Policy for Tameside schools.
  • Parents of new starters are encouraged to join us for a school meal.
  • The Children's Food Trust was established in September 2005. It's remit is to transform school food and food skills, promote the education and health of children and young people and improve the quality of food in schools. They are currently working with schools and catering providers in a number of ways. For more information visit the Children's Food Trust website Link to External Website.

What can parents/guardians do to help?

We all want children to have an open mind to food and our menus are designed to tempt children of all ages to try new foods. You could help us by encouraging your children to try different foods, including vegetables and by re-emphasising the importance of eating a varied and balanced meal. 

If you have any queries about the meals we provide or other aspects of the service, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Enquiries regarding Free School Meals:

Postal AddressBenefits Team, Tameside MBC, Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6DL
Telephone Number 0161 342 3708 Fax Number 0161 342 2676 Send Electronic Message Send a Message to Free School Meals

Enquiries regarding School Catering:

Postal Address Primary School Catering, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Tameside Council Offices, Room 2.23, Level 2, Wellington Road, Ashton- under- Lyne, OL6 6DL.
Telephone Number 0161 342 4379 Fax Number 0161 342 2234 Send Electronic MessageSend a Message to School Catering

Page last updated: 1 September 2014