School meals

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

We are passionate that children attending council managed schools within Northumberland are served healthy and nutritious good quality school meals, using local produce as much as possible.

In some Northumberland schools, meals are provided by the council, while others choose to manage their own catering services. All schools follow the food and nutritional-based standards provided by the government.
  • Newbrough,  
  • Bedlington Stead Lane, 
  • Cambois
  • Rothbury First
  • Chollerton
  • The Sele First
  • Greenhaugh first
  • Acomb First
  • Hexham Priory
  • Ponteland Richard Coates Middle
  • Whalton
  • Belsay
  • Stamfordham
  • LongHorsley
  • Bedlington Station
  • Bedlington Whitley Memorial
  • Seahouses Primary ,   
  • Cramlington  Shanklea, 
  • Branton
  • Hipsburn, 
  • 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,      
  • Blyth Newsham,  
  • Amble First  
  • Blyth Horton Grange 
  • Blyth New Delaval
  • The Dales
  • Guidepost Ringway
  • Choppington
  • Cleaswell Hill
  • Broomhill
  • Ellington
  • Red Row
  • Widdrington Grange View
  • Amble Links
  • Ashington St Aidan's Primary 
All of the menus produced are in line with the government’s food standards, effective from January 2015. This ensures we are serving a healthy, nutritious menu that keeps children fuelled throughout the day. To guarantee standards are being met, we use software to analyse the ingredients in terms of nutritious value before we generate our menus.

Please contact your school’s catering manager for relevant allergen information, which is available on request. Alternatively, please contact Gillian Arnott, the school meals service manager:

Our current menus

School 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.

Dishes and their allergen content

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.
We cater for a variety of special diets, including dairy-free, coeliac and lactose-free diets.
  • We will follow the Children’s School Food Trust to produce a compliant three-week cycle menu.
  • We will provide all willing customers with a nutritionally balanced two-course meal.
  • We will offer customers healthy choices in all we serve.
  • We will explore ways of encouraging customers to choose a healthy diet through ongoing innovation.
  • We will provide special diets where requested.
  • We use only quality food and ingredients and continue to strive for the food for life catering awards.
  • We will strive to use local produce where possible.
  • We will instruct our suppliers to only supply products that comply with the nutritional standards and food for life criteria.
  • We will carry out product testing on all new food items before use.
  • We will continue to consult with our customers in menu development.

Your choice
An initiative developed for first and primary schools with the aim of delivering a desirable and individual menu choice. The concept behind the initiative is schools will have ownership of their catering and 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. In effect, 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, or School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG). All involve children in the process.

Fuel to go
A concept used in middle schools. It is a meal deal with a variety of choices that include freshly made sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pasta pots, drinks, crudités and desserts.

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 part of this continual development, we hold regular training sessions for our unit managers three times a year and hold an annual catering conference in summer, as well as informing staff of new initiatives within the service.

When launching new initiatives, we also hold roadshows where we demonstrate the initiative. We involve our unit managers and other kitchen staff, encourage the use of fresh, local produce and aim for homemade food by developing skills whenever possible.

As a catering provider, we realise the importance of working closely with schools and we encourage linking the curriculum and 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 cuisine worldwide etc. that could directly link with the curriculum.

If you are interested in working for Northumberland County Council’s catering team, please view current vacancies here.
We have been awarded the fuel for life bronze catering award, a Soil Association accreditation that helps caterers give their customers reassurance we are working towards greater use of fresh, seasonal, local (including school gardens), and organic ingredients that are high in welfare meat and sustainable fish. View a map showing the local sourcing of produce used in the preparation of school meals in Northumberland here.

To achieve an award, we have to demonstrate and fulfil the following:
  • 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
  • to provide encouragement for the catering staff to be involved in food education activities
  • provide continual development for the catering staff
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.

Below are some useful links to resources and information about healthy eating and school meals.

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

The eligibility criteria for free school meals has been changed from 1 April 2018.

Changes to free school meals eligibility
The eligibility criteria for free school meals has been changed from 1 April 2018. The Government has made amendments to the eligibility criteria to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit.  The rollout of Universal Credit in Northumberland is scheduled for Autumn 2018.
Who is eligible for free school meals?
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 earned income of no more than £7,400, as 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 not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
What do these change 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 rollout period.

Any pupil who gains eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period.

This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold or if you stop being entitled to any of the qualifying benefits.  The rollout period is current scheduled to end in March 2022.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meal until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary to secondary.


I don’t currently claim free school meals
If you think you might be eligible for free school meals you can complete the online application form or you can telephone us on 01670 623592.  The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

If you are eligible, your school will be notified.  Your child will receive free school meals and the school will receive extra funding.

An application cannot be made retrospectively as the process is a set criterion and there is no appeals process.

Children who receive income support, or income-based jobseekers' allowance in their own right are also entitled to claim free meals under the same application process.

If a child attends school, or the parent/guardian resides, in Northumberland the applicant can apply to Northumberland authority for free school meals.

Refunds for free school meals are only made in exceptional circumstances. These are handled on an individual basis by the school.


Where can I get more information?
If you need any further information please contact us on 01670 623592


How can I apply?
Paper applications can be returned upon completion to:

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

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