School meals

Children can be entitled to free school meals if they or a parent receive a qualifying benefit.

We are very passionate about providing good-quality meals to children. We ensure that all children attending council-managed schools within Northumberland have access to healthy meals, which are made using as much local produce as possible.

We ensure that we follow the food and nutritional standards provided by the government. Some schools do choose to manage their own catering services. If this applies to your school, please ensure that you are also following government standards when it comes to your catering.

PLEASE NOTE: We cater for a variety of special diets, including dairy-free, coeliac and lactose-free diets. If your child has any dietary requirements, please contact their school directly. More information about allergen content can be seen below.
  • Newbrough
  • Bedlington Stead Lane
  • Cambois
  • Rothbury First
  • Chollerton
  • The Sele First
  • Greenhaugh first
  • Acomb First
  • Hexham Priory 
  • Whalton
  • Belsay
  • Stamfordham
  • LongHorsley
  • Bedlington Station
  • Bedlington Whitley Memorial
  • Seahouses Primary   
  • Cramlington Shanklea
  • Branton
  • The Grove
  • Bewick St Mary's
  • Scremerston 
  • Cramlington Cragside
  • Cramlington Hareside
  • Cramlington Hillcrest
  • Atkinson House 
  • Felton
  • Swarland
  • Tweedmouth Prior Park
  • Tweedmouth West
  • Spittal
  • Bewick St Cuthberts 
  • Norham  
  • Whittingham
  • Alnwick St Paul's Primary 
  • Pegswood
  • Linton
  • Morpeth all Saints  
  • Central Primary
  • Bothal Primary  
  • Blyth Newsham
  • Amble First  
  • Blyth Horton Grange 
  • Blyth New Delaval
  • The Dales/ Ashdale 
  • Haydon Bridge High 
  • Guidepost Ringway
  • Choppington
  • Cleaswell Hill
  • Broomhill
  • Ellington
  • Red Row
  • Widdrington Grange View
  • Amble Links
  • Ashington St Aidan's Primary 
Please see below for an explanation of how free school meals work, and for information on how to apply for free school meals.

Universal free school meals

All pupils in reception, year one, and year two are entitled to a free meal, without having to apply for this option.

Eligibility for free school meals

The government has made amendments to the eligibility criteria since April 2018. This is to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit.

PLEASE NOTE: Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:
  • Universal Credit
    • Provided you have an annual net income of no more than £7,400
    • This is assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
    • Provided you are also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run on
    • Paid four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

What do the changes to free school meals mean?

Most people won’t be affected by the new criteria. If you’re currently claiming free school meals, but don’t meet the new criteria, your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit roll-out period. 

The roll-out period isn’t scheduled to end until March 2022. Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meals entitlement until the end of their current phase of education, i.e primary to secondary.

Claim free school meals

Online: Telephone:
  • 01670 623592
Paper applications can be returned upon completion to:

Free School Meals Office
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
NE63 9XL

Revenues and Benefits

Benefit details for applications can be checked on receipt. However, if confirmation cannot be found, you will be contacted to provide proof of benefit.

Click here to view the Revenues and Benefits Privacy Notice.

The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.
 
We follow the catering standards set by the government. This is to ensure that your child is fuelled throughout the day. We also analyse the nutritional value of ingredients before we create our menus.

Our current menu

In first and primary schools, meal prices cost up to £2.50 for two-course meals. 
There are individual items available in middle and secondary schools.

Please check with your school for their prices.

Allergies
In the first instance, please contact your school’s catering manager for information about allergies, which is available on request.

Please also see a list of school meals and their allergen content.

Alternatively, please contact Gillian Arnott, the school meals service manager:

gillian.arnott@northumberland.gov.uk

Methods of payment
There are different methods of payment available throughout the county:
  • Cash
  • Card
  • Parent Pay
  • Cashless system
For further information, please contact your school directly.

Our promise to parents
We promise to:
  • Follow the Children’s School Food Trust to produce a compliant three week cycle menu
  • Provide all children with a nutritionally balanced two-course meals
  • Offer children healthy choices for everything we serve
  • Explore new ways of encouraging children to choose a healthy diet 
  • Provide special diets where requested
  • Use only quality food and ingredients and continue to strive for the Food for Life catering awards
  • Strive to use local produce where possible
  • Instruct our suppliers to only supply products that comply with the nutritional standards and Food for Life criteria
  • Carry out product testing on all new food items before use
  • Continue to consult with our customers in menu development

Your choice

Your Choice has been developed for first and primary schools with the aim of delivering a desirable and individual menu choices. The concept behind the initiative is that schools will have ownership of their catering and will be able to develop a suitable menu, encouraging more children to stay for a school lunch.

The menu has three main meal choices, plus a vegetarian option, with each school choosing one of the three main courses on offer, daily, throughout the three week cycle. This is a standard menu and children with special dietary requirements will be catered for in the usual way.

The menu choice is decided in partnership with:
  • the unit manager 
  • headteacher 
  • school council 
  • School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG) 
  • children:
    • (they can also be involved in choosing their own meal options)

Fuel to go

Fuel to Go is a meal deal available in middle schools with a variety of choices. The meal includes freshly made sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pasta pots, drinks, fruit, healthy nibbles and desserts.
Packed lunches brought into school from home can be high in fat, sugar and salt. Schools can introduce a packed lunch policy, giving parents guidance on what to include when providing a packed lunch.

All schools are different, so please contact your individual school for more information.
Northumberland County Council prides itself on the development of staff. We encourage and support self-development, with NVQ2 professional cookery and CIEH level three awards in supervising food safety.

As an award-winning catering provider, we realise the importance of working closely with schools, and we encourage introducing curriculum to the kitchen.

We provide staff with ideas for theme days, with menu ideas/recipes and promotional material. These can be calendar events, a day celebrating world cuisine for example, that could directly link with the curriculum.

If you are interested in working for Northumberland County Council’s catering team, click here to view any current vacancies.
We have been awarded the Fuel for Life Bronze catering award, a Soil Association accreditation. This helps caterers give their customers reassurance that we are working towards a greater use of fresh, seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. 

Some of our meals even include fresh produce from local school gardens, grown by the children themselves.

To achieve this award, we demonstrated the following in our catering:
  • No prohibited additives (from a prescribed list)
  • No hydrogenated fats
  • No monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • At least 75% of freshly prepared dishes on our menu
  • Eggs from free range hens
  • Meat supplied to us by Red Tractor
  • Seasonal menus
  • Our menus’ cater for all dietary needs
  • Engaging with our catering staff, involving them in food education activities
  • Provide continual development opportunities for our catering staff
Below are some useful links to resources and information about healthy eating and school meals: