Purpose – The school fringe environment (peripheral 400m buffer) offers an important opportunity for young people to obtain food and drink. There is international evidence to suggest socio-economic influence on food outlet availability and healthfulness within these environments; however the situation in the UK is unclear. The purpose of this paper is to describe food outlet provision (frequency and type) within primary school fringes across the spectrum of deprivation. Design/methodology/approach – Ten primary schools in Newcastle upon Tyne were purposefully selected from a comprehensive list of all schools within the region. Two schools were chosen at random from each quintile of deprivation. A total of 400-metre buffer zones around schools were audited. School fringe food environments were classified using a Food Outlet Classification System. Access (i.e. frequency), and type of food outlets were compared to area level deprivation, obesity prevalence rates and area type. Findings – Food outlet frequency was highest in the most deprived school fringe area. Convenience stores and takeaways represented the greatest proportion of total food outlets across all school fringe environments. More total food outlets were observed in fringes with above national average obesity prevalence rates for children. Research limitations/implications – UK case study approach limits widespread and international applicability. Practical implications – Informs school, health and urban planning disciplines regarding current picture of UK school fringes. Originality/value – Provides evidence in UK context that area deprivation and Census 2001 Supergroup class show significant correlations with school fringe food environment.