Free School Meals

We encourage all eligible families to apply for free school meals (FSM).  As well as the reassurance that an eligible student is receiving a healthy, nutritious meal every school day, FSM eligibility can also open up other avenues of financial support.

Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for FSM is set by the Government.  If you are in receipt of one of the following support payments you are entitled to receive a Free School Meal for your Child:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (IBJSA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance – Income Related (ESA-IR)
  • Support under part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax credit (CTC), providing you do not also receive Working Tax Credit and have an annual income as assessed by the Inland Revenue that does not exceed £16,190.

If you are in receipt of any amount of Working Tax Credit this automatically disqualifies entitlement to Free School Meals.

No other benefits or allowances qualify parents / carers to receive Free School Meals for children.

Eligibility has to be verified and at Buckler’s Mead Academy we use Somerset County Council (SCC) to do this on our behalf.  You do not have to provide proof of receipt of benefits.  SCC will run a check on receipt of your application and confirm to you and us at Buckler’s Mead if you are eligible or not within 5-10 working days.  As soon as you have been advised that you are eligible and that your application has been approved, please could you contact the Academy Office to ensure that there is no delay in setting your child up to receive FSM.

How does the Free School Meal system work at Buckler’s Mead Academy?

Students entitled to a FSM will receive a daily allowance as follows:

  • £1.00 to be spent on a breakfast between 7.30am and 8.15am (this additional temporary allowance started in October 2017 and is subject to a review)
  • £2.20 to be spent on a meal at lunchtime between 1.05pm and 1.35pm.

Please note – the FSM allowance does not include purchases at break-time.

The Academy encourages all FSM students to either have a hot lunchtime meal (the meal of the day including a pudding and drink costs £2.20) or a sandwich / baguette / salad / pasta (prices start from 80p) from our ‘Grab and Go’ unit.

If a FSM student spends more than £1.00 at breakfast or £2.20 at lunchtime, and/or any purchases at break-time, these extra costs will need to be paid for by the parent / carer.  Money can be added to the student’s catering account on-line using Wisepay.  Alternatively, there is a cash machine in the Dining Hall which can be used to ‘top-up’ student accounts. Any unspent FSM allowance will not carry over to the following day.

The FSM allowance must not be used to purchase food or drinks for other students.

It is vital that the food our Academy offers is nutritious and beneficial to the health of students. A healthy, balanced diet is not only vital for our students’ long-term well-being, it also aids learning in the classroom and leads to improved educational outcomes.  We therefore expect our students to purchase a nutritious meal with the FSM allowance (e.g. hot meal or sandwich) and not use the allowance to buy only a cake or a drink.

A new set of standards for all food served in schools came into force in January 2015.   These school food standards are intended to help children develop healthy eating habits and ensure that they get the energy and nutrition they need across the whole day.  The standards provide a nutritional safety net for children and assurance to parents / carers.  Further information on the standards is available on the Department of Education website.

Please can we also encourage you to speak to your child / children about the importance of eating a healthy diet? You can track what is being purchased each day via the Wisepay system.

How is the FSM allowance given to my child?

All students at Buckler’s Mead have their own personal catering account.  For those in receipt of FSM, the allowance at £2.20 per day is automatically credited to their account.    This amount cannot be accumulated as any unspent balance is cleared to zero at the end of the school day.  Parents/carers can ‘top-up’ their catering account via Wisepay Online Payments, students can pay cash using the Cash Payment Station located in the Dining Hall.  FSM eligible students have the same experience at the tills as all other students, using their thumb or pin number to purchase their items.

How do I apply?

If you believe you may be eligible and would like to apply for a free school meal for your child please download and complete the application form.  Alternatively, contact the Academy Office on 01935 424454 for information.

Completed application forms can either be returned to the Academy Office, Buckler’s Mead Academy, Yeovil, Somerset BA21 4NH or alternatively be sent direct to the Entitlements Team, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY (email to freeschoolmeals@somerset.gov.uk).