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 should follow the food and nutritional standards provided by the government.
  • 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 
Universal free school meals
All pupils in reception, years one and two are entitled to a free meal, without having to apply for this option.

Eligibility for free school meals
The eligibility criteria for free school meals has now changed since April 2018.

The Government has made amendments to the eligibility criteria to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit.  

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 changes 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 is current scheduled to end in 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
If you think you might be eligible for free school meals you can: 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.

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.

Where can I get more information?
If you need any further information please contact us on 01670 623 592.


All of our menus produced are in line with the government’s food standards.

This makes sure that we are serving a healthy, nutritious menu that keeps children fuelled throughout the day. To guarantee standards are being met, we analyse the ingredients in terms of nutrition before we create our menus.

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

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

Our current menus

First and primary school menu

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

A list of school meals 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 direct.

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 meal
  • 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
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.

Your choice

Your Choice has been developed for first and primary schools with the aim of delivering a desirable and individual menu choice. 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, or School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG), involving the children in the process of food choices.

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.



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 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.

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.

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 that helps caterers give their customers reassurance we are working towards greater use of fresh, seasonal, local (including school gardens), and organic ingredients, high in welfare, meat and sustainable fish. 

Click here to view a map showing the local sourcing of produce used in the preparation of school meals in Northumberland.
  • 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
  • Engaging with our catering staff, involving them in food education activities
  • Provide continual development opportunities for our 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.