School Meals

Catering at Christ’s College

A good lunchtime diet helps young people to concentrate well in lessons, aiding learning, and can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.  Students sitting down to eat lunch together develop their social skills and in addition, having school lunch as opposed to a packed lunch helps young people develop confidence to make appropriate menu choices and taste a range of different foods.


Universal Infant Free School Meals (Reception to Year 2)

All children in years Reception to Year 2 are automatically eligible to receive a free school meal, irrespective of parental income, in line with Government policy.  This is a benefit to parents of up to £400 per child per year and helps to introduce your child to healthy eating from an early age, so we strongly encourage you to take up this offer on behalf of your child.

Healthy Eating

Students are guided towards healthy choices through the following measures:

  • if two drinks are purchased, one has to be water or milk, helping to control sugar intake;
  • students are not allowed to buy a hot pudding/ home bake or cake unless they are having a healthy lunch e.g. meal in the restaurant or packed lunch, to discourage students from surviving on sugary snacks;
  • chips are only available for purchase once each week.

Packed lunches

If parents prefer their child to have a packed lunch this must not contain glass bottles, canned or fizzy drink or sweets. As a healthy college we ask for your support to provide your child with a nutritious balanced meal with fresh water to drink as it provides necessary hydration for them to work and play. All lunch boxes should have your child’s name on the OUTSIDE of the box in an obvious place to make it easily identifiable. It is recommended that your child bring a bottle of water for during the day (juice or flavoured water is not permitted) and all water bottles must be clearly marked with the child’s name.


A two course meal costs £2.30 a day.  Other items are individually charged in accordance with the tariff.



In line with most other schools, we operate a cashless meal system to avoid singling out students who receive free school meals and to reduce administration costs.  Money must be credited to your child’s meals account using ParentPay ( before any purchases can be made.  No meal deduction will be made in a child’s absence.  Students are only able to purchase food and drinks which they will consume themselves – they are unable to buy items for other students.  If you are yet to activate your ParentPay account, please contact the finance office ( to request your activation details.

Your child’s meals account balance can be viewed in your Parentpay account.  Parents/ carers are responsible for ensuring that your child’s meals account always has sufficient funds available to be drawn upon.  Most parents/ carers find it helpful for budgeting purposes to top up their child’s meals account by adding a minimum of £11.50 at the start of each week (enough for a two course meal each day).

At lunchtime, the till operator records the meal your child has chosen that day.  Students’ meal details are recorded, which allows parents the facility to monitor their child’s eating habits in their ParentPay account, should they wish.

Emergency overdraft

We recognise that amidst the busyness of family life, payments can occasionally be forgotten.  If that does happen, we arrange an emergency overnight overdraft on the account which ensures your child is provided with a basic lunch item to stop them being hungry, the value of which is automatically deducted from the account once funds have been topped up.  Please note that if the emergency overdraft is not swiftly repaid we reserve the right to refuse further meals service to your child and you will be required to provide a packed lunch for your child until the debt is repaid.  Regularly sending your child to school without sufficient funds in their meals account and without a packed lunch alternative is considered to be a matter of neglect and you may be referred to the relevant statutory authorities.

Free Schools Meals (Years 3 to 11)

Parents who receive certain benefits are eligible to apply for free school meals for their child.  Some of the College’s funding is based upon the number of students in school who are in receipt of free school meals, so we encourage all parents who believe they may be eligible for support to make an application.

Where students qualify for free school meals a £2.30 daily allowance is credited to their account automatically at lunchtime each day.  Extra monies can be added to top up the free meal allowance, via Parentpay.  FSM allowances are not carried forward from day to day and cannot be used for any other purpose; any unspent parents’ monies will be carried forward.


If you receive any of the following support, you are eligible to apply for free school meals for your child:

  • 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 State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (as long as you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

How to claim Free School Meals

You can claim free school meals for your child by making an application to the local authority where the child is resident.  For Sunderland students this means making an application to Together for Children.  Further information about making an application can be found at

Once your claim has been assessed, a letter will be sent to inform you of the outcome. If you qualify, the local authority will notify the College.  Please note that eligibility for Free School Meals can only be backdated to the date of application so parents/ carers remain liable for any meals costs incurred before that date.

Change in circumstances

It’s your responsibility to contact the free school meals office if your circumstances change, for example, if you no longer receive one of the qualifying benefits, you’ve moved house, or your child moves to a different school.


If you have any queries please contact a member of our team, as follows:

  • for queries about menus, pricing, meals account purchases, compliments and suggestions for improvement, please contact the Caterlink Catering Manager Mr Scott using (marked for attention of Mr Scott and clearly stating the name of your child and his or her tutor group).
  • for queries about meals account top ups using ParentPay and free school meals please contact our finance office via (clearly stating the name of your child and her or his tutor group)
  • for queries about medical dietary requirements please contact the school office in the first instance via (clearly stating the name of your child and his or her tutor group)