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Published: Friday, 21st September 2018

School dinners have come a long way in the past 20 years since Jamie Oliver started his campaign here in Royal Greenwich to make them healthier and more interesting.

Nutritionally balanced and with modern and fun menus, school dinners have never been better, helping to give children a healthy meal that helps keep up concentration and energy for an afternoon’s hard learning.

There are changes for how you qualify for free school meals when you are on Universal Credit. From October, the government will be stopping 'legacy benefits', as it transfers millions of people over to the Universal Credit system.

Don't wait to apply

People on certain benefits are urged to apply now for free school lunches so that they can continue their entitlement. If you qualify now, you will continue to be entitled for the children you have applied for until at least 2022, even if you have a change in your income or benefits. If your child is in infant school, it is still important to apply now, so that you continue to be entitled regardless of your income circumstances in the next few years.

Councillor David Gardner, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, said: "School lunches are such a great way to ensure your child gets a square meal that is having a healthy and nutritious, and helps them maintain concentration and energy levels to keep on learning.

"Applying for free school meals also helps support your child's school as they receive additional money from the pupil premium to pay for teachers and teaching assistants."

'Make sure you sign up straight away'

Councillor Averil Lekau, Cabinet Member for Adult's Social Care, Health and Anti-Poverty, said: "If you're on benefits it's vital that you sign now to free school lunches so that you protect your entitlement for the next four years - the money you can save will have a huge impact on your finances. Make sure you sign up straight away to protect your entitlement!"

Parents and carers can sign up to free school lunches now will protect their entitlement to claim them until at least 2022. New applications for younger siblings would need to be made when they reach school age, and eligibility assessed.

On Thursday 4 October there will be a national schools' census to count the number of children at school - if you are on benefits, talk to your child's school.

Find out more about who's eligible and sign up now