According to the guidance produced by the DFE on free school meals, large parcels should:

  • contain food items rather than pre-prepared meals due to food safety considerations
  • minimise the fridge and freezer space that schools and families will need to store foods
  • contain items which parents can use to prepare healthy lunches for their child/children across the week
  • not rely on parents having additional ingredients at home to prepare meals
  • not contain items restricted under the school food standards
  • cater for pupils who require special diets, for example, allergies, vegetarians or religious diets – schools should ensure there are systems in place to avoid cross-contamination
  • contain appropriate packaging sizes for household use, rather than wholesale sizes

Guidance on free school meals has been produced by the Lead Association for Catering in Education, Public Health England and the Department for Education (DfE). It sets out some general principles for putting together a lunch parcel which will allow parents and carers to prepare simple and healthy lunches for their children at home across the week.

Every Pupil Should

  • 1 loaf of bread or pack of rolls / 10-inch wraps
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 large tomatoes or 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 standard tin sweetcorn in water
  • 5 portions of fresh fruit (e.g. apples, satsumas, bananas) or 3 portions of fresh fruit and 1 tin fruit in juice (e.g. pears, peaches, fruit cocktail)
  • 2 items from the following: 1 pack sliced cooked meat (e.g. chicken, ham or vegetarian alternative) or 1 tin meat or 1 tin tuna in water or 6 eggs
  • 200g block of cheese or 3 cheese portions
  • 1 tin baked beans
  • 1 500g pot plain low-fat yoghurt or 3 individual serving yoghurt pots
  • 1 litre / 2 pints semi-skimmed milk