The number of children attending council-run breakfast clubs has fallen by 10% after fees were hiked by 800%.
As of the start of this week, 1,604 kids get their first meal of the day at school clubs.
However, this number has fallen by 164 – the equivalent of six average-sized primary school classes – compared to last term.
At least one school has set up “brekkie boxes” containing cereal bars and juice to hand out to kids in the first class each day if they don’t – or can’t – get breakfast before the school day starts.
The drop in attendance has been slammed as “unsurprising” by critics.
Among those feeling the brunt of the increase is Wendy Scullin, owner of Madigan’s Tea Room in Castle Street.
She is pulling her daughter out of breakfast club next month and is having to change her working hours because she cannot afford the projected annual cost of £380, up from £47.50.
She said: “It’s too expensive, plain and simple. I’m going to have to change my working pattern and stay later each day. What I don’t understand is that the breakfast club is a fantastic idea, and the reason they were set up is brilliant, but if the schools are having to supply ‘brekkie boxes’ after the breakfast clubs have finished surely the clubs aren’t doing what they were set up to do.
“I’m not surprised at all that the numbers have gone down.”
The decision to hike daily breakfast club costs from 25p a day to £2 for first-borns and £1 thereafter was included in this year’s council budget.
Parents warned last term that the rise would put pressure on “working poor” families who live on limited incomes but are not eligible for free meals.
In June, children and family services convener Stewart Hunter said Pupil Equity Funds (PEF) were being used to create “formal” breakfast clubs for those who need fed each morning, free of fees.
But at least one school has dipped into its PEF cash to provide “brekkie boxes” children can dip into after 9am.
Despite being paid for with PEF money – provided by the government to tackle issues linked to poverty – council staff have insisted the boxes are nothing to do with the hike in fees.
A council source said: “The ‘brekkie boxes’ are there as part of the Cost of the School Day project. It means if children come in and they’ve slept in they still get the benefit of breakfast. It is nothing to do with not being able to afford breakfast clubs, at all.”
Coldside councillor George McIrvine says he has been made aware of allegations that kids’ breakfasts were being strictly capped and controlled with a wristband system.
However, this has been denied by council staff.
“As predicted when the SNP administration increased the cost eight-fold, a decrease in uptake was inevitable and can only mean one thing: parents and guardians can no longer afford it,” Mr McIrvine said.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that families, as well as having to contend with an eight-fold increase in daily costs, are also faced with their kids having a substandard, restricted and pitiful breakfast.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “Our breakfast clubs offer a nutritional and healthy breakfast for the start of the school day. The number of pupils who attend our clubs fluctuates.”