All of our meals are freshly prepared on a daily basis, using good quality ingredients. It is our aim to ensure that all pupils can choose from a wide range of healthy, tasty and nutritious meals and products. We also offer tempting vegetarian options and special diets are catered for too.

If your child has a special diet or an allergy to any food we would appreciate if you could complete a Special Diet form. These forms are available from the School Office or the school kitchen. If your child would normally have a packed lunch we would still like this form to be completed for our records.

A school lunch comprises of two courses: main meal and dessert. The daily cost for a school lunch is £2.40.

Our menu is produced in line with the Government’s food standards. For those children who bring a packed lunch to school we ask parents to refrain from including confectionery, crisps or fizzy drinks.

Mid-morning break 11.00am – 11.15am

We offer a morning break service which includes:

  • A selection of cereals.
  • A selection of savoury items including toast, toasted sandwiches, teacakes, breakfast muffins, crumpets and breakfast sandwiches.
  • A variety of fresh fruit and yoghurts.
  • A selection of drinks including water, juices and flavoured water.

Lunchtime service 12.15pm – 1.25pm

We offer a varied healthy two-course set meal. Our menu works on a three-week rotation (PDF, click to download) and includes:

  • Daily specials including vegetarian options.
  • Filled jacket potatoes.
  • Selection of sandwiches with a variety of fillings.
  • Salad bowls.
  • Hot and cold desserts plus fruit pots, yogurts, fresh fruit.

Additional items are available to purchase at lunchtime which are individually priced:

  • Home baked items e.g. scones, flapjack.
  • Selection of fruit juices, milk, milkshakes, smoothies, water and flavoured water.

We will be continuing to have regular Theme Days throughout the year linking the menu to educational, cultural and national events; these menus usually offer a healthy and nutritionally balanced meal and often introduce new tastes and flavours which pupils may not have previously experienced. The school food standards do not apply to Theme Days, parties, celebrations to mark religious or cultural occasions, or at fund raising events therefore some of the Theme Days may also allow the students to try items which are normally restricted on the menu and therefore is a real treat for the pupils. We still offer a selection of sandwiches, salads and jacket potatoes so there is always an alternative should your child not wish to take part in the themed menu.

The menus are designed to be fun and encourage those who would normally bring in a packed lunch to sample a school meal. Lunchtime is not just for filling an empty stomach, it’s a time to chat and develop social skills. By encouraging as many pupils as possible to take part in Theme Days, more children can enjoy a meal with their friends.

HMS operates a biometric cashless school meals system. The biometric system is based on fingertip recognition technology. Every pupil is issued with an account which allows them to buy food and drink at morning break and lunchtime using their fingertip or pin number.

Money can be added to the account by online payments via the School Gateway app/website, which also provides information on school meal balances and purchases. Alternatively, payments can be made by cheque or cash.

A daily spend limit can be applied to the account. If you would like to apply a limit, please inform the Catering Manager either by writing it on the cashless envelopes or email lmcdonald@hexhammiddle.org.uk. Alternatively you can contact the school office: 01434 602533.

Online Payments

To set up online payments, you will need to visit the School Gateway website and click on ‘New User’, entering the email address and mobile number that the school holds on record for you.

If you have changed your email or mobile phone number please contact the Pastoral Office and they will update your records to enable you to log in to School Gateway.

You’ll receive a text message with a PIN number. Use the PIN to log into School Gateway and complete the initial setup for payments using your bank account number and sort code. After this is set up, payments can be made on either the website or the app (see below).

The payment is set up as a direct debit. Direct debits are used so that School Gateway can instruct your bank to make payments, but this is only ever done when you make a request on the School Gateway website/app. Unlike other direct debits, this is not a regular monthly payment – you are in control of how much is taken and when it is taken, and are able to cancel the arrangement at any time.

To make a payment click on the Payment Box, and click ‘Add School Meals’. There is a minimum payment for school meals of £12.00, equivalent to a week’s worth of meal deals, but there is no maximum payment.

Once you have paid online and the payment has been processed, you will receive a confirmation email. Payment will be received through School Gateway to your child’s school meals account the day you make the payment, however, your bank account may not have the money taken out of it for a few days.

Download the app: If you have a smartphone, please download School Gateway from your app store (Android and iPhone). You will be able to check the balance, top up the account and see that the money has been added to your child’s school meals account under ‘My Lunch Money’.

Cheque and Cash Payments

Cheques should be made payable to Hexham Middle School or HMS. Please write your child’s name on the back of the cheque.

Cheques or cash should be placed in an envelope and clearly marked with your child’s name, form class and amount.

Envelopes for school meals are to be put in the cash collection boxes which are located in the Fellside building, Beaumont building, and the Dining Hall.

Account Balance

It would be appreciated if pupils’ accounts maintain a credit balance at all times. Pupils may ask at the till point for their balance however we will endeavour to notify pupils if their balance is low or the account has insufficient funds.

Contact will be made with parents/carers where insufficient funds are available or there is money owing on the pupil’s account.

Pupils leaving school will only be issued a refund if the balance is over £5.00 – please request a refund form from the school office.

We know from our records that a number of parents do not claim for their entitlement of a Free School Meal for their son/daughter. Free school meals entitlement enables your child to have a free hot or cold lunch every day and the school will also receive additional funding to spend on extra support for your child. This additional funding continues to apply for several years after a pupil ceases to be eligible for free meals, so it’s still worth applying even if you think you will qualify for only a short period of time.

Changes to free school meal eligibility under Universal Credit

The eligibility criteria for free school meals have been changed this year, and the Government estimates that around 50,000 more pupils will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous system. The below information explains the changes and how they might affect you.

What are the new eligibility criteria?

Children are entitled to receive free school meals if they or their parents or guardians receive any of the benefits below:

  • Universal Credit, provided they have an annual net earned income not exceeding £7,400 (£616.67 per month)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by HMRC
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

I don’t currently claim free school meals – what does this mean for me?

If you think you might be eligible for free school meals, submit a claim via Northumberland County Council as follows:

  • Online: www.northumberland.gov.uk/fsm
  • By telephone: 01670 623 592
  • Paper applications – these can be returned upon completion to: Free School Meals Office, Northumberland County Council, Wansbeck Square, Ashington, NE63 9XL

Benefit details for applications can usually be checked on receipt. However, if confirmation cannot be found, you will be contacted to provide proof of benefit. The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and, if you are on Universal Credit, that your earnings do not exceed the threshold. If you claim Universal Credit, your earnings will be assessed from up to three of your last Universal Credit assessment periods. If you are eligible, your school will be notified. Your child will receive free school meals and the school will receive extra funding.

We appreciate that some parents do not claim free school meals as they feel that they can manage without, but the school will receive vital funding even if meals are not taken, and your child will be entitled to other types of support. With the cashless catering system we use, students can be assured of total anonymity. Their catering account is topped up automatically every day to the value of a ‘meal deal’, and this may be spent on meals or individual items. Please note that students cannot ‘save up’ their allowance from one day to the next. Money may be added to their account should you wish to purchase additional items above the free school meal allocation.

I am currently claiming free school meals – what does this mean for me?

Most people won’t be affected by the new criteria. If you’re currently claiming free school meals, but don’t meet the new criteria, your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit rollout period. This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold or if you stop being entitled to Universal Credit. The rollout period is currently scheduled to end in March 2022.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meal until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.

Where can I get more information?

If you need any further information, please speak to a member of school staff or the local authority. You can also visit the free school meal website. If you would like any further information regarding our school lunches, please see our website or contact the school office.

If you think you might be eligible, please make a claim as soon as possible and use your entitlement – don’t let your school miss out on this important extra funding that will benefit your child.

Certain data will be held on the system to enable accurate operation. This will include the pupil’s name, tutor group, photo, account balance and meal entitlement. This data is handled under the guidelines of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and only used by parties directly involved with the implementation of the system. If you have any concerns please contact the School Office on 01434 602533.