Free school breakfast funding hoped to continue after 450 pupils benefit

Funding for free school breakfasts is hoped to continue after a trial saw around 450 pupils take advantage of the scheme each day.

Children’s services director Helen Budge said schools had “really seen the benefit” of the Scottish government-led project.

Since January, secondary school kitchens have been serving hot drinks, cereals, toast and fruit to give pupils a healthy start to the day.

Provided through the “islands emergency cost crisis fund”, the scheme has been intended to offer help at a time when many families are struggling with the cost of living.

Initially, the uptake was slow, with barely 50 breakfasts served in the first week of the trial in January.

But after changing the scheme so that pupils could take advantage of the breakfast during morning break, it picked up in popularity.

Addressing Monday’s children and families committee, Mrs Budge said pupils who travelled to school by bus, usually arrived too late to have breakfasts before classes started – so the breaktime offer meant more bairns could benefit.

Responding to council leader Emma Macdonald, who asked whether the government funding was to continue, Mrs Budge said there had been a “brief conversation” about that.

“I believe it may be,” she added.

“We will pursue that because we certainly have benefited from it as you can see with the numbers.”

Shetland North member Tom Morton asked whether the high uptake was actually a “worrying sign” of the pressures facing parents. 

Mr Morton asked whether the council could carry out a study into the effect of “good breakfasting on education”.

“I think it’s quite significant because you can’t learn on an empty stomach,” he added.

Mrs Budge said she would ask youth services team leader Martin Summers to survey the pupils about their experiences of the breakfast scheme.


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