School meals

Why choose school meals?

  • 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 2021.
  • 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.
  • Qualified staff prepare and cook lunch, saving you time preparing a packed lunch.
  • Milk or water available with every meal.
  • Represents excellent value for money.

Frequently asked questions


A Primary school meal costs £2.20 and a Secondary school meal costs £2.45.

All primary school pupils from P1 to P5 presently receive a free school meal.

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

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credits)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit, with an income of less than £17,005
  • Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit with an income of up to £7,920
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit with a monthly earned income of not more than £660
  • Universal Credit, with a single parent/carer working less than 16 hours per week with an annual earned income from employment of less than £17,005
  • Universal Credit, with both parents/carers working less than 24 hours per week with an annual earned income from employment of less than £17,005

Pupils are eligible for free school meals if they are between 16-18 and fall into any of these categories.

You can apply for free school meals online. You will need to provide evidence of the benefit/s that you receive.

You must provide evidence of the qualifying benefit each year in September. If you stop claiming the benefits you must notify the school. If you receive a free school meal to which you are not entitled, you may be asked to pay the money back.


The Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments (previously known as the COVID Hardship Grants.)

Families with children of school age, receiving free school meals on the basis of low income are eligible for the Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments from the Scottish Government.   Eligible families will receive the Scottish Government grant through Aberdeen City Council – we are administering the grant on behalf of the Scottish Government. Find out more about the Scottish Child Payment Bridging. 

Pupil Equity Funding (PEF)

For every pupil from Primary P5 to S3 that registers for free school meals their school will also receive £1,200 through Pupil Equity Funding (PEF).  

The funding is provided to all schools where parents qualify and apply for free school meals. The funds are used towards a wide range of initiatives within the school your child attends to support achievement, such as breakfast clubs, lunchtime games, counselling services, numeracy and literacy, ICT equipment and resources.

The Accord/ NEC is used within the school meals system that operates at all Primary and Secondary schools as the way to place an order and/ or pay for meals.  For pupils in P1 to P5 there is no need for a card as meals are provided free of charge. For pupils in Primary 6 who do not have a card we will provide them with a card to use in school and let you know the card number as this is the number to quote when making a payment online towards your child’s meal account.  Pupils in P7 and those in secondary school need an Accord/ NEC to use the catering facilities in the school.  To apply for an Accord/National Entitlement Card simply follow the link below to complete the online application form.


For those pupils in P6 and P7 who already have an Accord/NEC for free bus travel you can use this card number to make payments for school lunches, and you keep the card for use on the bus.  For those pupils in secondary school, the card is kept at all times by the pupil and can be used for free bus travel, Young Scot, proof of age and to use in school catering service.

The card will be sent to the home address and once your child has the card, it’s theirs to keep and the unique number on the card is the reference number you use to top-up the card online for school meals. Therefore, it’s important that the application needs to be completed as soon as possible.

For Primary school pupils who have an Accord/ NEC for free bus travel, this card should be kept by them for use on the bus and a separate card will be provided for them to use solely in school to order their lunch.


The Accord Card/National Entitlement Card is used by pupils at all of Aberdeen City Council's schools to pay for healthy and tasty meals and snacks. Topping up your child’s card couldn't be easier and can be topped up online. This method is safe, secure, and convenient and means that your child no longer needs to take money to school.

Primary school meals cost £2.20 and £2.45 for academy; you can top up online at the following: 

Make a top-up payment for primary school meals
Make a top-up payment for secondary school meals

Alternatively, money can be taken to school and loaded onto the Accord Card at one of the load terminals if your child is in secondary school, or by a member of the Catering Team in primary schools.  

How do I know the balance in a school meals account?

You can check the balance of a school meal account at any time using our ‘School Meal Account Balance’ service. 

To access this service, you will need to register for or login to an online account. This is a quick process. Once complete, you should enter your child’s Accord Card number and their school into the balance checker system and their balance will be confirmed.

You can make an enquiry about your child’s cashless catering card or account for the following:

  • If you have an enquiry about the card balance
  • Transfer a balance to another card
  • Request a refund
  • Request your card number

Healthy eating, vegetarian, multi-cultural and special dietary items are included in menu plans where possible and within Aberdeen City Councils special diet policy. If you have any specific concerns or requests, please contact the Head Teacher of your child's school who will then liaise with the necessary parties to progress your request.


Food for Life Scotland is a flagship programme of Soil Association Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government, that supports local authorities to serve freshly prepared, locally sourced, sustainable school meals in their schools and early years settings.

Aberdeen City Council currently hold the Food for Life Served here award at Bronze level in both its primary and secondary schools. We are one of the few authorities to hold this award for both our primary schools and secondary schools.

For more information please watch the Food for Life Served Here video.

We develop school menus taking account local seasonal and sustainable produce, deliver menus generically across the city to meet the Food and Drinks regulation within schools, taking account the reduction in the use of raw and processed meat. Suppliers are mindful of food miles and take measures to use clean methods of transport whilst keeping deliveries to a minimum by using multi temp vehicles where possible. We as a service use biodegradable and compostable disposable packaging across all sites.  We have also removed plastics across the board within our control and have engaged suppliers so that we now only provide drinks that are in recyclable bottles cartons.  We have removed all plastic straws from our service replaced with a compostable alternative where there is a need. Furthermore, we monitor food waste and use energy efficient equipment.

In March 2021, the Council Climate Change Plan 2021-25: Towards a Net Zero and Climate Resilient Council was approved. The Plan set out the approach, pathway and actions towards net zero and climate resilient Council assets and operations, by 2045.

Council Climate Change Plan 2021-25: Towards a Net Zero and Climate Resilient Council

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