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. This 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. This is 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 with 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

Regulations mean we cannot declare nut-free status. However, 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. 

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, they can accept cash and or cheque. Check with your school for details. If you pay at the school office, please make cheques payable to 'Compass Services UK Ltd'.

 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. It also 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
Lewes
BN7 1UE

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

Apply online now if you’re entitled. This will ensure your child gets free school meals as they move to Year 3. 

Your child’s school could get more funding if your child is eligible. 

Children in Year 3 and older

Children in Year 3 and above may get free school meals if their parents or carers get any of these benefits:

Children eligible after 1 April 2018 will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling they are in (primary or secondary). They will remain eligible until March 2025, even if their circumstances change.

Children must be in school both before and after lunchtime to quality for free school meals.

If your child goes one of the East Sussex academies listed below, contact the school to apply for free school meals. 

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

Out of county

Contact your child's school if they do not attend school in East Sussex.

Huggg food vouchers for school holidays

Children (aged 2-19) who are eligible for free school meals can get Huggg food vouchers in the school holidays. Children who qualify for early years funding because they are from a low-income household can also get Huggg vouchers.

The amount depends on the length of the holiday, but it is at least £15 for half term and at least £30 for longer holidays. The vouchers are funded by central government as part of the Household Support Fund.

For the February 2024 half-term holiday, eligible school pupils will get a £15 voucher.

You will need to activate your voucher by 20 February 2024. If you haven't activated the voucher by the deadline, it will be cancelled. Once you have activated the voucher, you have a year to spend it. 

Children at eligible nurseries will receive their vouchers later, during March 2024. These vouchers need to be activated by the end of March 2024. More information will be released by the Early Years Funding team in February.

How to get a Huggg voucher

The vouchers are issued before each holiday via schools, colleges and early years providers.

If you have already received your voucher, but are unsure how to use it, you can find helpful guides on the Huggg website: How do I use my voucher?

If you think you are eligible but haven’t received a voucher, please contact your school, college or provider first.

If you are still having issues you can contact our Free School Meals team:

Stay healthy

Help your family be healthier and happier, by eating well and moving more. 

Cost of living

Find out what support is available to help with the cost of living: