COVID-19 : Free School Meals

FREE SCHOOL MEALS – FAQS for Parents and Carers

1. What’s the difference between an eCode and an eGift card?

eCode – this is the 16 digit code which will be sent to you if you receive an email from your school administrator. You’ll need this  code  to access  and  choose your supermarket  eGift card. You  cannot use the eCode directly with the retailer,  it must be exchanged    for an eGift  card.

eGift card – each supermarket has their own eGift card. To order your eGift, redeem your eCode at The eGift card will be  sent  to the  email  address entered  during check-out and can be spent instore at the chosen supermarket. Your  school may select your eGift  card for you and either print it and post it to you, or arrange for you to collect it.

2. How do I use my eCode to select a supermarket eGift card?

We recommend ordering your supermarket eGift at home before going to the store. To  select your supermarket eGift card, follow the steps below:

  • Copy eCode from your email.
  • Go to
  • Enter the 16 digit eCode (you can enter more than one eCode if you have more than one to redeem).
  • Select a supermarket.
  • Enter the amount and add to baske.
  • Checkout and enter the email address you would like the eGift card sent to.

Your eGift card will be processed and sent (please allow up to 3 hours for it to be delivered to your inbox).

3. What supermarkets can I pick from?

The below supermarkets are available:

  • Morrisons
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Asda
  • Waitrose (John Lewis)
  • M&S food

4. How do I know what the value of the eCode is?

This is stated in the email sent to you by the school.

5. Do I have to use the full value of the eCode when choosing my eGift card(s)?

Yes – your balance will be visible on the  web page.

6. Can I choose to redeem my eCode at more than one supermarket?

You can mix and match different supermarket retailers within the same order, provided the total value you’ve chosen for each is equal to total value of the eCode you’ve entered. For example, with  a £10 eCode, you could choose £5 for Tesco and £5 for Sainsbury’s.

Simply enter the value you would like to order on each supermarket eGift card and your balance will update so you know how much you have  left.

Please note that the full value of the eCode needs to be redeemed in one transaction, you cannot redeem a partial value of the code and save the rest for later.

Most supermarkets accept multiples of £1 or 1p per eGift card, however some other supermarkets have larger fixed amounts that can be ordered, e.g £10.

7. How long do I have to redeem the eCode?

Your eCode will expire after 1 month.

8. What happens if my eCode has expired?

The eCode is cancelled and the money associated is then returned to the Department for Education.

9. What can I purchase in-store with the eGift card?

The eGift card is issued to you in respect of the free school meal benefit and will only be accepted in store for the purchase of food and groceries.

10. How do I know what the value of the eGift card is?

The value will be present on the eGift card itself.

11. How do I use a supermarket eGift card?

A supermarket eGift card is a digital voucher. The eGift card email contains a link to a barcode which can be presented at the till in-store either on a smartphone screen or printed on a piece of paper, just like a gift card.

Some eGift cards can be used to purchase online. Please see FAQ 13 below.

12. How long does the supermarket eGift card last for?

Between 12 months and 5 years, depending on the supermarket.

Please see the table below:

Supermarket Expiry
Sainsbury’s 24 months from last transaction
Tesco 5 years from last transaction
Asda 24 months from last transaction
Morrisons 12 months expiry
Waitrose (John Lewis) 24 months from last transaction
M&S food 24 months from last transaction

For more T&Cs, please refer to the supermarket’s website.

13. Can the vouchers be used in-store and online?

Please see the table below:

Supermarket In-store Online
Sainsbury’s Yes No
Tesco Yes No
Asda Yes Yes
Morrisons Yes No
Waitrose (John Lewis) Yes Yes
M&S food Yes No

For more T&C’s, please refer to the supermarket’s website.

14. My school has ordered an eCode for me, but it hasn’t come through to my email?

Firstly, check your junk mail.

If it still hasn’t arrived within 3 hours, please contact your school to ensure that they have your correct email address. If necessary, the school administrator can cancel the previously sent  eCode and resend to your correct email address. If this still doesn’t work, your school can contact Edenred.

15. I have ordered an eGift card, but it hasn’t come through to my email?

Firstly, check your junk mail folder and trash.

You will receive two emails – one will be a confirmation or your order and the other will be the eGift card itself. If your order confirmation email has arrived, then your eGift card is in a queue and is on its way. If you’ve received neither emails, it is possible that you have entered your email address incorrectly at checkout. If you think this may be the case, please contact

16. What happens if I have a smartphone but no data when I’m at the supermarket?

We suggest ordering your eGift card at home when connected to WIFI before you go to the supermarket. Take a screenshot of the eGift card barcode before going to the supermarket as this should still scan ok in-store.

17. I’m not able to get to the supermarket.

You can forward the supermarket eGift card to someone else to purchase goods on your behalf if you’re not able to get to the supermarket. The eGift card email contains a link to a barcode which can be presented at the till in-store, just like a gift card.

18. How often will I receive the supermarket voucher?

The school will have flexibility in how often they send you an eCode or an eGift card. The eCode  can be redeemed for a supermarket eGift card within 1 month. The eGift cards have different expiry dates – please see FAQ 12 above  for further details.

19. I have more than one child, will I receive multiple eCodes?

This will be at the discretion of your school who may issue an eCode for each of your children or, alternatively, may send one eCode to you, for the total value of your children’s free school meal entitlement.

Any questions should be sent to where a colleague will help you.