Free school meals holiday award

More information about the School Holiday Food Awards (previously automated Supermarket vouchers) for low income families in receipt of free school meals (FSMs) or Council Tax Support (CTS).

About the scheme

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Running the school holiday award scheme

The school holiday awards are part of the Household Support Fund which will continue until March 2024 when the current funding ends. Eligible families in receipt of free school meals will receive an email direct from the school with the link to apply online.

Checks are completed against the free school meals national register along with Council records.

How much you will get

Eligible families in receipt of free school meals will receive £15 per week per child.

When you can apply

 The application window will be open for two weeks prior to the school holidays starting as follows:

School HolidaysApplication opens Application closes No Weeks
May half term 2023 Tuesday 16 May   Monday 29 May  2
Summer 2023 Tuesday 11 July   Monday 24 July  6
 October half term 2023 Tuesday 10 October   Monday 23 October  1
 Christmas 2023 Tuesday 05 December   Monday 18 December  2
February half term 2024 Tuesday 30 January  Monday 12 February  1
Easter 2024 Tuesday 12 March  Monday 25 March  2

How you will be paid

We will usually make the payment into your bank account. This means you can pay for your goods using your debit card or mobile payment apps.

It will take three working days from when your application is made for the payment to appear in your bank account.

Bank holidays that fall on a weekday are not working days.

If you do not have a bank account, you can request a voucher instead. We aim to process your application within one working day of receipt of your application.

Collecting information and recovering overpayments

We need to collect your personal information, including your bank details, in order to be able to pay you the award. This will be required every school holiday.

Your details are checked against records that we hold to ensure the correct payment is issued. If there are discrepancies, you will be asked to provide more information and your payment could be stopped if incorrect information is provided.

Accurate information must be provided on your application form. Fraud will not be tolerated and payments made in error will be recovered. If you have a change in your household you must report a change to ensure your payment is correct. Any overpayments will be recovered from future free school meal holiday awards.

If your child attends a Trafford school but you do not live in Trafford

If you do not live in Trafford you will be automatically sent a voucher directly from you childs school. Wait for the voucher and you don't need to complete the online application. Contact your child's school if you do not receive the voucher.

Your child goes to school outside Trafford but you live in Trafford

If your child's school is outside Trafford, their Free School Meal holiday awards will be dealt with by the local authority the school is in. Go to GOV.UK and enter the postcode of the school your child attends to find out how to get them. 

Changing to a bank account payment scheme from the supermarket voucher scheme

The change is because the latest research into poverty has revealed that cash, instead of a voucher payment, is the most effective way to reduce poverty. 

Applying for previous school holidays

Holiday awards cannot be backdated. You can only apply for the current school holidays and we are not able to award payments for past school holidays.

If you have missed the deadline to apply

You can only apply during the application window. Your child’s school will inform you in advance of when the application opens and you have 2 weeks before the start of each school holiday to apply. Payments cannot be issued once the application closes.

About the application form

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What to do if you have not received the link to the form from school but your child gets free school meals

First check your junk/spam mail. If it is not there email and the link will be sent to you. This must be during the application window.

When will the money be in my bank account

It takes three working days from the award date to be processed through the banking system (BACS). Bank holidays that fall on a week day are not counted as a working day. 

Expected payment date
Day application processedExpected payment day

Monday by midnight


Tuesday by midnight


Wednesday by midnight


Thursday by midnight


Friday by midnight


Swapping a voucher for cash payment

The payment option selected on the form cannot be changed once you have submitted your application.

Receiving a voucher because you do not have a bank account

You can but you will still need to apply online and can select voucher instead of adding you bank details on the application form.

Getting help to complete the application form

A friend or family member may be able to help you complete the form. If not, you can visit your local library who will set you up on a computer and assist you. You will need to take the link to the application along with your personal details including national insurance number to complete the form.

About your child 

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Completing the form when your children attend different schools

You will only be able to submit one form. You will need to add all your children in your household to the one form, including children under school age and children up to the age of 18 who you receive child benefit for.

Entitlement when your child is under school age

You may be entitled if you are in receipt of Council Tax Support or your child receives free school meals from a nursery. The application process includes a cross check against eligible systems so if you think you may be entitled complete the form and you will be given an instant decision. 

Your child is entitled to free school meals but you have never applied for them

You can still recieve the reward. The system will automatically cross check your details against the free school meal eligibility checker to see if you meet the criteria. If you do, you will be given an instant decision.

Your child lives between two households

Only one award will be issued for each child. You should apply if you are the registered person for free school meals for your child or you receive the child benefit payments.

Checks are completed to ensure duplicate payments do not go out.

Further support

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What to do when the application form says you do not qualify as your children are not on free school meals, but they are

If you have been in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) since before 1 April 2018 and you have continued to receive free school meals, you may not be on the national register and therefore your application will say you are not eligible.

You need to email quoting your application reference number, your name and address plus the full names and dates of birth of all children in your household. A check will then be made with the DWP on your UC start date and Trafford's free school meal register. You must do this within the application window and a voucher will be issued if you are eligible.

We expect to respond to your email request within 10 working days. Check your email including spam / junk mail for your voucher before contacting us.

You have previously recevied vouchers as you could not get an automatic decision

If you have received vouchers for previous awards because you were eligible but could not get an automatic decision. You will be on the list for a pre-approved voucher. These will be issued 2-3 working days before the application window opens.

Check your email including spam / junk mail before contacting us.

What to do when you have not received a pre-approved voucher and the application form is saying you do not qualify

Check your email including spam / junk mail. If you have not received anything once the application window opens, contact quoting your application reference number, your name and address plus the full names and dates of birth of all children in your household and your details will be checked. 

What to do when you emailed your details for a manual award, as the application said you were not eligible, and you still have not heard anything

Check your emails to see if you have been awarded vouchers automatically. We are working through cases as quickly as we can. We expect to respond to your email within 10 working days. If you have not heard from us after this time, email adding a follow up email and the application reference in the subject box. We will still get back to you even if the application window has closed, as long as you have contacted us while the application was open.

Requesting your vouchers change to a bank account payment when receiving a manual award 

Payments can only be made into bank accounts where the details are completed on the application form. This is so the bank account can be verified. For manual awards supermarket vouchers are issued. If you would prefer cash to a supermarket voucher a Paypoint cash voucher can be issued which you can exchange at your local Paypoint outlet. Find your local paypoint store. Email and state in your email if you would prefer a Paypoint voucher.

What to do when you have put the wrong details on the form and it says you are not eligible

Go back to the start of the application and check all the details you have input. Correct anything you have mistyped and continue. If the form states you are still not eligible and your child receives free school meals, you need to email quoting your application reference number, your name and address plus the full names and dates of birth of all children in your household. A check will be made with the DWP on your UC start date and Trafford's free school meal register. We expect to respond to your email within 10 working days. 

How to apply for free school meals 

You can apply for free school meals at any time of the year, for more information visit free school meals.

Applying for help with other costs

You can apply for help towards your gas, electricity and water bills through the Household Support Fund. There are a maximum number of awards that can be granted in a 12 month period. If you have reached this and require further support visit The Trafford Directory where you will find many useful services in Trafford.

If you require support completing the application form or for general information including benefits advice, legal, money, employment, housing and immigration you can contact the Citizens Advice Service

Support for other wider essentials, activities and services will be provided by the 6 Community Response Hubs that are hosted by voluntary sector organisations located across Trafford. They can by approached directly, contact the  Community Hubs and ask about the Household Support Grant.