Primary school children across Blackpool benefitted from 1,482,000 free school breakfasts in the past 12 months, it has been revealed.
Since January 2013, a selection of malt loaf, bagels, fruit, raisins, yoghurt, smoothies, toast, and cereal have been served up at 33 resort schools.
And last year, food worth £1.3m was handed out, data released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed.
The scheme, aimed at improving the health and well-being of the town’s youngsters, has since its launch been hailed a success by town hall chiefs – but a needless expense in the face of heavy funding cuts by opposition leader Tony Williams.
Blackpool Council has slashed the scheme’s budget from £1.3 to £500,000, but Coun Williams argued: “We have been spending £1.5m per year on a free school breakfast scheme which has delivered none of the benefits [council leader] Coun Blackburn said it would, that’s a total of more than £4.5m.
“A lot of jobs could have been saved with that amount of money, but Coun Blackburn won’t scrap it because it was his idea.
“He may reduce it somewhat but if he can’t deliver a full service he shouldn’t deliver it at all. He should admit he was wrong and scrap it completely.”
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn says the scheme is making a difference to pupils’ prospects.
He said: “The primary school breakfast and milk scheme is a very important part of levelling the extreme health and wellbeing inequalities in Blackpool, which affects pupils’ ability to learn.”
It is believed the £500,000 savings will be made by better procurement of the food and more efficient use of staff time.
The impact of the scheme on the health, wellbeing and educational engagement of pupils was also praised after being evaluated by a team of boffins from Northumbria University.
Director of healthy living Dr Margaret Anne Defreyter said: “I strongly recommend that the scheme continues.”