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Free School Meals

If you receive certain benefits, your child may be entitled to free school meals. Please see Free School Meals (FSM) eligibility below: 

  • Income Support  
  • Income based Jobseekers 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 you don’t get more than £16,190 a year).  
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit  
  • Universal Credit (with annual earned income of no more than £7,400 a year after tax and not including any benefits you get). This includes those who had free school meals whilst on Universal Credit before April 1st 2018 even if earnings are above that £7400 figure.  
  • If your child is eligible for free school meals, they’ll remain eligible until March 2023, or until they finish their current phase of schooling (primary or secondary), if that’s after March 2023. 

To find out if you are eligible, search for 'FSM’ on the Hertfordshire County Council website:

In order to apply, simply register with Herts County Council using the following link: or by phone 0300 123 4043, or email 

Claimants may also be eligible for help with travel costs and music fees. 

Birchwood uses a biometrics system to pay for school lunches. Those students entitled to free school have their accounts topped up automatically at the start of each school week and can pay for their items in the Cafe with their thumbprint. This is the same method of payment that is used by those who are non-FSM students, so there is no apparent difference.