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School Meals


School meals

The School Meals Catering Service provides meals for all schools in the city. The service aims to:

  • Provide nutritious, well presented meal choices daily
  • Promote the healthier options and actively encourage their uptake
  • Be proactive in recipe development and introducing new menu tastes
  • Provides a service that meets the highest Health and Safety standards
  • Guarantee compliance with all current relevant legislation, including the Scottish Government's nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools (Scotland) regulations 2008
  • Work in partnership with Head Teachers, Teaching Staff, Parents, Pupils and other external partners to encourage positive changes in eating patterns over time
  • Provide a service that meets the needs of our customers
  • Strive for continuous improvements in all aspects of the service

Pupil Equity Fund

Schools receive 1200 funding from the Scottish Government for each pupil between P1 and S3 who is registered for free school meals. This is called Pupil Equity Funding and schools use the money to help fund a wide range of initiatives to support achievement. 

If you are eligible for free school meals, please register your child. Even if your child does not wish to take up the option of having the free school meal every day, we would encourage you to register so that the school will receive the Pupil Equity Funding to support learning.

Do all schools in Aberdeen City offer school meals?

Aberdeen City Council's Catering Service is about to introduce a new Primary School Meal System to Airyhall Primary School as a pilot and with the view to roll out to all of the councils primary schools in the future. The system, which has been developed by the Accord Card team and replaces the current paper meal tickets, works with 'electronic accounts'. Each pupil has their own Kidz Card with their name and individual card number. The card is used in the classroom to order lunch. Having an account also means that you can top-up your child's account online and we send you a weekly alert to let you know your child's balance. To find out more visit the Accord Aberdeen Homepage.

How much do meals cost?

A two course meal costs 2.10 in primary schools. Secondary schools offer cafeteria services, where a range of meals and snacks which meet the nutritional requirements are provided at varying prices.  A traditional school meal is always available in secondary schools and it costs 2.35.

In Primary Schools, meals are purchased through a Meal Ticket System where tickets are sold either singly or in books of 10 and are available from the school catering staff.  Payment to schools can be in cash or by cheque, with cheques made payable to "Aberdeen City Council"  Lunch tickets can also be purchased from the Marischal College Customer Service Centre, Kincorth Customer Access Point, Mastrick Access Point and Woodside Access Point. Payments at the Customer Access points can be made in cash, cheque or debit/credit card.  Only cash and debit/credit card payments are accepted for school lunch tickets at the Marischal College Customer Service Centre.

In Secondary Schools the Council's Accord Card Scheme is used by all pupils.

What do school meals comprise?

School meals in Scotland have undergone a transformation due to the Hungry for Success initiative which detailed nutritional guidelines for school lunches.  The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 builds on Hungry for Success and requires all local authorities to ensure that food and drink provided in schools comply with the nutritional requirements specified by Scottish Ministers in regulations.

The statutory nutrient standards for school lunches have been calculated to ensure that the school lunch provides a third of the daily nutritional requirements of primary and secondary school pupils.  The nutrient standards represent the amount of energy (calories) and nutrients required to be provided by an average day's school lunch.

Within Aberdeen City Council's primary schools menus are planned to provide plenty of choice whilst offering a nutritionally balanced diet over a week.

Secondary schools offer cafeteria services, where a range of meals and snacks which meet the nutritional requirements are provided at varying prices.  Within academies a traditional school meal is always available at the above price.

Why choose a school meal?

  • Provides a third of the nutrients a child requires for growth and development
  • Encourages healthy eating from an early age
  • Meal entitlement meets the Scottish Government's nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools (Scotland) regulations 2008
  • Eating a balanced meal at lunchtime has been shown to aid concentration during afternoon lessons
  • Helps develop the social skills of eating within a safe, supervised dining room environment
  • Convenient - qualified staff prepare and cook lunch saving you time preparing a packed lunch
  • Vegetarian, medically prescribed diets and special dietary needs can be accommodated where possible
  • Lots of variety and choice
  • Chilled fruit juice, milk or water available with every meal
  • Bread included with every meal
  • Regular fun days and promotions
  • Represents excellent value for money

Who is entitled to free school meals?

Pupils are eligible for free school meals if their parents or carers are in receipt of one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) but not Working Tax Credit (WTC), with an income under 16105 with effect from April 6th 2015.
  • Both maximum Child Tax Credit (CTC) and maximum Working Tax Credit (WTC) with an income under 6420.
  • Support under Part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit

Pupils are eligible for Free School Meals in their own right if they are between 16-18 and fall into any of these categories.

What evidence will I have to provide?

When you complete and return your application form you will have to provide some documentary evidence.This could be:

  • A letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) less than three months old confirming the type of benefit and current eligibility.
  • If you receive Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, your letter must state the words Income Based.
  • You're Tax Credit Award Notice TC602 from HM Revenue & Customs
  • Confirmation of current support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) or a Social Services Asylum Team
  • You can send the documentary evidence with your claim form; however we do not advise that you send any important documents by post.You may wish to bring them to your child/ren's school or to Marischal College (01224 523237) where the documents will be verified and returned to you immediately.

If you are experiencing any difficulties in providing the necessary documentation, please contact us for advice and assistance.

How often do I have to provide evidence?

You will be asked to provide evidence yearly in September.You should provide the evidence at the school or Marischal College (01224 523237) at the date specified in your revalidation letter received from the school.

Your original form will be used each time with Part 2 updated at the school

What should I do if I stop claiming benefits?

If you stop claiming the qualifying benefits you should notify the school or Marischal College (01224 523237) immediately.

If you receive a free school meal to which you are not entitled, you may be asked to pay the money back.

How does my child/ren receive Free School Meals?

Primary: Each child receiving Free School Meals will be issued with a standard dinner ticket, which is identical to the tickets given to those who pay for their school meal. The tickets are then exchanged for a meal in the dinner hall/canteen.

Secondary: The Council's Accord Card can be used by all pupils to receive school meals. If a pupil is eligible for Free School Meals their Accord Card will have this information stored on it.  At lunchtime all pupils Accord Cards are swiped through the till to make 'payment'. The till will automatically know if the pupil is entitled to free school meals. This means that no cash/ticket is exchanged between any pupil and catering staff, making those receiving free meals anonymous.

Can I have my Free School Meals entitlement backdated?

No, free school meals entitlement is granted from the date the application is processed. However, if valid proof of receipt of a qualifying benefit can be presented with your free school meals application to the school, entitlement can start immediately.

Do all schools provide school meals at lunchtime?

Yes, all schools offer food at lunchtimes. The style and type of provision may vary according to the school and the length of the school lunch break.

For how long will my child receive free school meals?

Subjects to parents/carers continuing to be in receipt of qualifying benefits, and proof being provided to the school yearly, children will receive free school meals from primary 1 to sixth year at secondary school.

How do I arrange free school meals for my children?

To apply for free school meals download the application form Here or in the Download Documents section at the top of this page.
Application forms can also be obtained at any time of the year from any Primary or Secondary School, from Education and Children's Services or by telephoning 01224 523237. Induction packs, which contain various information including Free School Meals forms, are handed out to parents of all Primary 1 pupils when they visit the school. New intakes are given induction packs at the time of their visit.

How will my child's school cater to his/her special dietary requirements?

Please tell the Head Teacher of your child's school of any special dietary requirements, and the school will advise catering staff.

How will the school know my child is eligible for Free School Meals?

If you qualify for free school meals we will write to the school to inform them of this. Meals will be provided from the first day of the school year for applications submitted during the summer break. For applications received after school commences, meals will be provided as soon as possible. Schools will be constantly updated during the year with new applications that have been granted.

I get Working Families Tax Credit. Can I get free meals for my child/children?

Yes. From August 2009 you can only get free meals for your child/children if you are in receipt of both Maximum Child Tax Credit and Maximum Working Tax Credit with an income below the threshold for receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit currently set by the UK Government at 6,420.

I want to apply for free school meals for my three children. Do I need to complete an application form for each child?

No, there is space to apply for free school meals for five children on the application form. However, If the children attend different schools, separate application forms will need to be completed and taken/sent to the relevant school or Marischal College.

The secondary school that my child/children attend operates a swipe card system. How do they get their free meal?

Your child's card will be credited with the cost of a free meal per day. This is put on their card on a weekly basis usually on a Monday morning.

What are the advantages of my child having school meals?

If your child has school meals, s/her is receiving a nutritious daily meal, which saves you having to prepare a packed lunch or arrange for them to come home at lunchtime. It is also an opportunity for your child to develop social skills as s/he sits with other children to eat lunch.

What food is offered to my child at primary school?

Pupils in Primary schools are offered a two course meal with a choice of main course, supplemented by salads and bread, and which meet the new Scottish Nutrient Guidelines for School Meals.

What food is offered to my child at secondary school?

Secondary schools operate a cafeteria style service with healthy choices being made available.

What other benefits can I get for my child to assist them attend school?

You may also be eligible for free school transport, or a school clothing grant. For students who wish to stay on for 5th and 6th year at secondary school, there is also education maintenance allowance available. A disabled students allowance may be available for those in further education.

Which types of special dietary requirements can school meals cater to?

Healthy eating, vegetarian, multi-cultural and special dietary items are included in menu plans. If you have any specific concerns or requests, please contact the Head Teacher of your child's school.



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