COVID-19 Free School Meals

As a result of school closures due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Minister for Education and Minister for Communities have agreed to make payment to families who have been assessed as eligible for free school meals.

In order for those payments to be made effectively it is essential that the Education Authority (EA) has your most up to date bank details.

If you have already submitted your bank details and they have not changed then you do NOT need to send us your details.

If you do need to provide us with new or updated details then please email them to: with your name, National Insurance number, address with postcode and details of your child(ren). Please note that the online form is no longer available.

Payments will continue to be made fortnightly. Not all payments will be made on the same day and it is expected it may take 10 days for payments to reach all recipients. 

Thank you for your continued patience at this challenging time and if you have any queries in relation to free school meals please contact your local office.

Eat Well Live Well

Demand for the programme has been exceptionally high. It has now reached its approved capacity and new registrations have had to be suspended. We are exploring further options to meet additional demand and the site will be updated in due course.

Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions

For more information on the free school meals payments see our Frequently Asked Questions:

Will I receive help with free school meals now that my children are not able to attend school?

The Education Authority has been working with the Department of Education to explore options for making payment to families who are entitled to free school meals. If your child/children currently receive(s) free school meals a payment will be made directly into your last known bank account.

IMPORTANT: If your bank account details have changed in the last 12 months, please see below for details of how to update this.

When will I receive my first payment?

The first payment will be made w/c 30th March but it will take a number of days for payments to reach all recipients.
If we don’t have your up to date bank details then payment will be delayed as a result.
The Education Authority is prioritising to ensure payments commence as soon as possible (we will update the FAQs when we have further information).

Please note incorrect bank or building society sort code or account number details may prevent payment.

How much will I receive and how often?

Parents/guardians will receive £2.70 per day, payments will be made every two weeks.
For each child you will receive a fortnightly payment of £27.00 until 30th June or until your child’s/children’s school reopen whichever is soonest.

My home address and/or bank account details has changed in the last year. How can I update these details?

If you need to provide us with new or updated details then please email them to with your name, National Insurance number, address with postcode and details of your child(ren). 

I have recently lost my job or my circumstances have changed. Can I receive help with free school meals?

Yes, you need to immediately inform HMRC / Universal Credit / the Social Security Agency and inform them of the change in your circumstances.
When you begin to receive a qualifying benefit, you can then submit a free school meals application form with the relevant proof of benefit (see details on the application form).

Application forms are available from the Education Authority’s website

I don’t have a bank account so what should I do?

You should set up a bank account as soon as possible and then email the details to with your name, National Insurance number, address with postcode and details of your child(ren). 

Will I receive a notification that I have received a payment?

No. In normal circumstances you would receive a remittance advice but this is not possible for everyone at present. Please check your bank account based on the timescales indicated. It will appear in your bank account with the description 'EA a Payment reference and the amount'.

I have a query about my payment, who can I contact?

Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak we have limited resources impacting on our ability to speak with you and answer your query. Please contact your local office with any urgent queries. For contact details click here.

I want to make a new application for FSMs, what should I do?

Whilst there are delays in the Free School Meals application process at the moment due to the Covid-19 outbreak please log on to the Education Authority website which will be regularly updated.

I have recently provided my bank details via the EA website – what happens next?

Your details will be added to the system for the next payment run (currently every 2 weeks). The next payments to families are scheduled for week beginning 13th April.  Note. A significant number of parent’s have provided new/updated account details and EA Staff are working hard to ensure all details are included.

I didn’t get my bank details to the EA in time for the first payment of Free School Meals’ will I get my payments backdated?

If you were entitled to free school meals on 23 March when schools closed, you are entitled to direct payments to your bank account to cover the period from 23 March (or the date of entitlement for new applicants) until 30 June or until schools reopen whichever is soonest.

However any backdated payments due will not be paid until after 30 June or schools reopen. We would request parents bear with us during this time as not all families may get the funding at the same time however be assured all those entitled will receive payments which will be backdated as above.​

Last updated: 11/05/2020