Time to ask: Is your child eligible for free school meals?

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PARENTS are being encouraged to find out if their children are eligible for free school meals before September.

Portsmouth City Council will be holding two phone-in days on July 21 and 22 to advise mums and dads about the perk for families struggling financially.

Criteria for free school meals will depend on whether parents receive one or more of the following: income support; income-based jobseekers’ allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; support under part four of the immigration and asylum act 1999; child tax credit provided you are not entitled to working tax credit and have an annual income that does not exceed £16,190; guarantee element of state pension credit.

The aim of free school meals is to ease the stress of families providing lunches that are nutritious and healthy.

Figures from the School Food Trust estimate parents who want to make packed lunches that meet the same nutritional standards as healthy school meals put in between 50 and 190 hours of total preparation time across the school year.

A city spokeswoman said: ‘So it’s good news if your family qualify for free school meals, no bills and no hassle but delicious, healthy meals for your child.

‘You can rest assured that your children will be choosing from a tasty, balanced menu and save yourself hours of precious family time.’

The phone-in numbers are 023 9283 4962 or 023 9284 1231.