School meals

We work with Chartwells to serve 15,000 meals each day. 95% of these East Sussex maintained schools and academies make all the meals fresh on site. Schools and academies who do not have a kitchen will have freshly prepared meals delivered from another school.

All food meets the Government’s School Food Standards - GOV.UK. We provide a healthy, balanced meal at an affordable price which contributes to one third of your child’s daily nutritional requirements.

Our school meal policy

We will:

  • provide a hot freshly prepared two-course meal to all pupils at an affordable price
  • cater for vegetarian and special diets dictated by beliefs and values
  • provide personalised menus for pupils with medically prescribed diets
  • meet Government School Food Standards
  • provide an inviting environment to ensure the dining experience is a social and enjoyable part of the school day
  • treat our pupil customers with respect
  • provide a menu with multiple choices to include everyone
  • offer fruit and yoghurt twice a week
  • offer freshly baked bread to accompany every meal
  • only offer fried food once per week
  • offer three fruit based desserts per week
  • offer water or milk to pupils daily

Medical diets

Medical diets shouldn’t stop children enjoying nutritious and tasty school lunches with their friends. We cater for many medical dietary needs:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Milk-free for lactose intolerance
  • Gluten-free for coeliac disease
  • Carbohydrate counts for diabetics

We can cater for pupils with one or more allergies or intolerances to the 14 EU allergens:

  • Gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame
  • Sulphur dioxide/sulphites
  • Lupin
  • Molluscs.

If your child needs a special menu for medical reasons, please complete a Medical Diet Request Form [151.1 KB] [pdf]. You can also request this form by emailing Compass - Special Diets or get a form from your child’s school office.

A GP or Dietitian’s letter must support medical requests.

A dedicated nutritionist will assess your request, they’ll send a suitable menu to you for written consent. For legal reasons you must give written consent before your child can access this service.

Nut allergies

Although regulations mean we cannot declare nut-free status, we don’t knowingly use any products that contain nuts or nut by-products in our primary school menus. Contact us for further information.

Universal Infant Free School Meals

Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) - GOV.UK is a scheme which provides funding for schools or academies who offer a free meal for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2.

This funding is based on three census days across the academic year. Your school or academy should share these dates with you. UIFSM funding is given at £2.41 per meal.

School meal menus

To see the menu at your child’s primary or secondary school, special school or sixth form, please visit the school’s website.  

Paying for school meals

The preferred method of payment is online or top up card via ParentPay.

If your school or academy does not yet support this service cash and or cheque will be accepted. Check with your school for details. If you pay at the school office, please make cheques payable to 'Compass Services UK Ltd'.

We can’t give your child a meal without:

  • advanced payment, or
  • payment on the day your child needs a meal.

For queries about payment, speak to your school or email Chartwells Regional Manager

The meal price for KS2 is £2.85 and £3.00 at secondary schools (1st September 2023)

School fruit and vegetable scheme

All children aged four to six in maintained schools get a free piece of fresh fruit or vegetable each school day.

The 5-a-day scheme (NHS) promotes health eating and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer in later life. It’s run by the Department of Health, and is open to any CSA-maintained school.

School milk schemes

Primary schools in East Sussex can opt into one or more of the following milk schemes. Talk to your child’s school to find out if they take part.

  • Under-fives milk scheme
    Gives free milk to every child under five at school for over two hours per day.
  • Over-fives milk scheme
    Provides subsidised milk for children aged 5 to 11.
  • Medical milk scheme
    Provides milk for pupils if it’s been medically prescribed.

Contact us

To comment about school meals in East Sussex, contact:

Contracts Management Team – Schools
Property Delivery, Business Services Department
County Hall,
St Anne’s Crescent

Telephone: 07392 932670
Email: East Sussex Catering Manager

For primary school meal queries, contact Chartwells:

Telephone: 01435 862848
Email: Chartwells Regional Manager
Website: Chartwells school catering company

Help your family be healthier and happier by eating well and moving more change4life - NHS

Infant Free School Meals

Your child gets free school meals if they’re in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

If you get any of the benefits listed below, your child’s school will get more funding. Apply online now if you’re entitled to make sure your child gets free school meals as they move to Year 3.

Free school meals for children in Year 3 and older

Older children may get free school meals if their parents or carers get any of these benefits:

[Anyone who gets Working Tax Credit - GOV.UK, won’t get free meals regardless of income]

  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

Children will get free school meals if they meet the criteria and are in school both before and after lunchtime.

In the unfortunate situation where your child is unable to attend school, you can contact their school or academy for advice on free school meals.

Children eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2025 even if your circumstances change.

Our Electronic Checking Service might be able to confirm entitlement. If not, you’ll need to show recent proof that you qualify. Meals cannot be given until eligibility is verified.

Apply online if your child goes to school in East Sussex.

If your child goes to school outside the county or to one of the East Sussex academies listed below, speak to the school about how to apply.

Secondary academies:

  • The Eastbourne Academy

Primary academies:

  • Ark Blacklands
  • Ark Castledown
  • Ark Little Ridge
  • Breakwater
  • Burfield
  • Hawkes Farm
  • High Cliff
  • Hollington 
  • Peacehaven Heights 
  • Phoenix
  • Telscombe Cliffs 
  • White House

Further information

The Admissions and Transport Team administer free school meals.

Help your family be healthier and happier by eating well and moving more change4life - NHS