Minister for schools confirms free school meals voucher option for disabled children on school roll

3 mins read

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Schools in England can use lunch parcels or voucher options to ensure they provide free school meals to those children entitled to them and on the school roll, the minister for schools has confirmed in a written response to our campaign letter.

Minister Nick Gibb MP confirmed that maintained schools and academies have a duty under the Education Act 1996 to provide nutritious, free meals to pupils to eligible pupils wherever they receive education. This applies both in school and at home.

“The Department expects schools to act reasonably in ensuring that their food provision accounts for medical, dietary, and cultural needs,” he added. “Parents are advised to speak to their local authority to consider suitable alternatives in line with the guidance on long term illnesses.”

Our Free School Meals campaign is now calling for the government to include this instruction in its free school meals guidance.

Parents successfully using our template letter to get free school meals

We are pleased to hear that some parents have successfully used our template email asking their child’s school or college to issue food vouchers.

Here are three reasons why you might want to use our free school meal template email:

1. You don’t know where to start or how to ask for a reasonable adjustment to ensure your child can get their free school meals entitlement.

2. It works! The letter is based on what the law says (some parents have even received backdated vouchers as a result).

3. You can send them knowing that other parents up and down the country, in your position, are sending them too.

If you have successfully used our template letter to get an alternative to a free school meal for your disabled child, we’d love to hear from you. We want to tell your story and use the schools that are acting in line with their equality duties as examples to those schools still refusing to make reasonable adjustments. Get in touch by emailing  or

Next steps for the free school meals campaign

Last month, we published new research revealing that a third of eligible disabled children are missing out on free school meals.

We’ve since been busy meeting with MPs and government officials to find a solution. We are also pleased to be working with the Mayor of London’s office, who got in touch following a story in iNews about disabled children missing out on free school meals.

As part of the next stage of the campaign, we are interested in hearing from parents with young children missing out on free meals in England.  Please get in touch if your child meets the following criteria:

  1. They are going into reception in September or are currently in reception or Y1. 
  2. They already have a formal Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS) package in place.
  3. They are not on the school roll with medical home tuition (not elective education).

Please get in touch if you meet these criteria. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Join the campaign

If your child has been missing out on their free school meals, join the campaign group today by becoming a member of the parent-led campaign Facebook Group. There are now 1,800 parent carers in the group.