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Online School Meals

A seamless end to end service allowing parents / carers to apply online for free school meals.


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Executive Summary

The project has worked with DfE and local authorities to produce a robust, reliable eligibility checking service. This enables a seamless end to end service allowing parents/carers to apply online for free school meals and receive a response in real-time.

Quick Detail

Innovation Owner:
Amanda Derrick
DCSF / Hertfordshire CC
Health & Social care

Project Detail

This project is part of the Connect Digitally Programme, led by Hertfordshire County Council and funded by DCSF.

Online Free School Meals provides a seamless “end-to-end” service enabling parents /carers to apply online quickly and easily.

By incorporating real-time eligibility checking, parents/carers and LAs are immediately informed of eligibility. With automated notification to schools, children can be provided with a free school meal as early as the following day.

53 English (35%) and 21 Welsh LAs (95%) have so far transformed their customer journeys by using the new service and have removed the need for paper proof of benefit.

This results in projected annual savings for OGDs, LAs, schools and parents/carers in excess of £7.8m. With 125 (82%) English and 21 (95%) Welsh LAs using the service to perform initial eligibility checks, alongside automated renewals and audits, year on year savings in the region of £23m are achievable

Key Facts


August 2009
August 2009


Send a request for more details


DCSF / Hertfordshire CC

Project Partners:

  • DCSF,
  • Cabinet Office,
  • DWP,
  • HMRC,
  • Home Office,
  • CLG,
  • DEFRA,
  • 152 Local Authorities RIEPs,
  • Becta,
  • School Food Trust,
  • IDeA,
  • Socitm,
  • UKOnline Centres,
  • Local Authority Catering Association


  • Citizens

Approach taken

Resources and skills used

Formal method used


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