Universal Free School Meals (UFSM)

What is Universal Free School Meals (UFSM)?

UFSM is an allowance provided by national or local government to ensure that qualifying children are provided with a free school dinner. Regionally, it may be referred to as Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) or Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM), but regardless of the name, its function remains the same.

The value of the allowance is set by local or national government but can be individually overridden on the system at a school level if required.  This allows you to provide meals that are above the base allowance, and still make them free to parents, absorbing the additional cost within the school.

Qualifying children are normally defined by year group, commonly Reception, Year 1, and Year 2 but in some cases, this may extend to Nursery year groups or Years 3-6.


Please check your local or national government site to determine the value and eligible year groups.

Once configured, parents and guardians of children in the associated year groups will have their meal prices automatically discounted by the allowance value set. They do not need to take any further action.

How is this different from Free School Meals (FSM)?

FSM allowances are assigned individually to specific children once their parents have been approved for the assistance. UFSM however is a universal allowance that is given to all children in specific year groups, determined at a local or national government level.

IMPORTANT Free School Meal allowances (FSM) will supersede any UFSM entitlement.

How is it set up?

Default value and year group allocation are set up for schools during implementation, using the values provided by national or local government. For schools using a 3rd party cashless till, the setup is managed within the till software, overriding the settings within ParentPay.

In England and Scotland

The year groups and value are set nationally and are preconfigured on your system at setup.  If these defaults are changed by the government the system will be automatically updated.

To make changes to the configuration see article How to change the UFSM allowance

In Wales

By default, schools will be configured with the Reception year group enabled and all others disabled.  The amount will also be set to the local authority value. If any changes are required, schools will need to make the changes manually on the system to configure their individual requirements.

To make changes to the configuration see article How to change the UFSM allowance