Cost of Living Support - Support for Families
Free School Meals
If you are claiming certain benefits, you could save money by claiming free school meals for your child.
Your child will be eligible for free school meals if you (or your partner) are in receipt of any of the following:
- Universal Credit and net earnings are no more than £7,500 per year (£616.67 in your last assessment period, £1,233.34 over last two assessment periods or £1,850 over last three assessment periods)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income, as assessed by HMRC, of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit 'run on' - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also receive free school meals.
Once eligible, your child will continue to receive free school meals in primary or secondary school until they have finished their current phase of education i.e. primary (Year 6) or secondary (Year 11).
From 1 April 2025, if your child moves between primary and secondary school you will need to reapply for free school meals.
Please use the link below to apply for free school meals.
Food banks provide emergency food and compassionate, dignified support to people locked in crisis. There are 10 food banks available to residents in St Helens Borough, five of which are managed by The HOPE Centre charity in St Helens and require a voucher from a relevant local agency.
Community food pantries
Pantries operate as a member-led neighbourhood hub and are just like a shop, in that you choose the food you want from the shelves. Members pay a small subscription of £4 each week they visit, and in return can choose groceries worth many times more, often saving up to £1,000 a year on shopping bills.
There are four community food pantries available to residents in St Helens town centre, Thatto Heath, Haydock and West Park.
How it works
Step one: Find your nearest pantry (you must live in the area in which it is based).
Step two: Go along and join on the day it is open, remembering it is open to everyone in that community.
Step three: Pay your £4 membership each time you visit. Sit and have a cuppa while you wait for your turn.
Step four: Choose your shopping, which will always be worth more than your weekly membership fee.
Step five: Tell your neighbours and get them to join too.