David Dorward retired as Chief Executive of Dundee City Council in December 2014, and was aware that children who received free school meals in term time, had no such provision during the school holiday.

In October 2015 Lindsay Graham, a Winston Churchill Memorial fellow gave a lecture on Holiday Hunger at the Rank Foundation annual conference. David Dorward heard her speak and came back to Dundee determined to start a school holiday meals provision on the City.


Even a small cash or food donation will go to a great worthwhile & local cause



Dundee Bairns began as a small Fun and Food programme. Over the years it has developed into an agile, responsive charity, working hard to benefit children in Dundee, addressing inequality in basic needs such as food, clothing and stimulating activity. Follow our timeline below to see how we have grown.


In April 2016, Tay Cuisine who deliver the Meals at Home service in Dundee, 365 days a year, agreed to prepare hot meals for a pilot Fun and Food Programme in the Lochee Ward of Dundee. Dundee City Council agreed to fund the pilot. In total 400 hot meals were delivered and the concept was proven.

June –  Radio Tay Cash for Kids donate £23,000, and the Northwood Trust £15,000 to assist the Fun and Food Programme. Dundee City Council agree to match fund these amounts. This provides sufficient funding to run the Fun and Food programme for a 12-month period.

Tay Cuisine agree to make meals at £2 per meal and Dundee City Council provided drivers and vans. Gillian Kelly is taken on to administer the Fun and Food Programme.

July/August School Summer Holidays – 19, 300 meals were delivered across 76 individual community projects.  Cash floats of between £50-£300 were also granted to supplement fun activities for children at the projects.

October School Holidays – 3,800 meals are delivered across 25 community projects

November – Gillian Kelly becomes a Time to Shine Intern for Dundee Bairns, via The Rank Foundation

December – 42 £100 vouchers are distributed to families in the Lochee area to help support vulnerable families over Christmas

2017 - Planting Roots

February – Dundee Bairns wins The Evening Telegraph Community Spirit Award for Health and Wellbeing

March – Continued funding from Radio Tay cash for Kids, Northwood Trust and Dundee City Council secures another year of the Fun and Food Programme

April – 7,200 meals including some 1,700 breakfasts, along with 2,000 Easter eggs

17th May 2017 – Dundee Bairns becomes a Registered Scottish Charity

Lauren McKie is taken on as a summer intern to help pursue funding opportunities to develop the charity

July/August School Summer Holidays – 20 volunteers deliver 19,000 meals including 4,000 breakfasts across 50 community projects

October – After school Tea Clubs begin in 5 primary schools thanks to Scottish Government Social inclusion Funding and Pupil Equity Funding, meaning 2 course hot meals are delivered during homework clubs. The work is evaluated by Abertay University.

Outward Bound holidays by Dundee Bairns to tackle social inclusion and equity via activity holidays begin.  24 children and their teachers spend 5 days on an activity holiday at Loch Eil.

3,500 meals are provided during the October School Holidays

2018 - Tackling Hunger

April School Holidays – 7,364 meals including breakfast and lunch are delivered along with 1900 Easter eggs

12 children experience an Outward Bound Holiday courtesy of Dundee Bairns

July/August School Summer Holidays – 20 volunteers deliver 19,108 lunches and 6,975 breakfasts; a record of 26, 083 meals over 30 days

October School Holidays – 5549 lunches and 2416 breakfasts are delivered to support community projects

December – Farmfoods vouchers are bought at £25 each to support local families with basic food over the Christmas school holidays.  100 are bought by Dundee Bairns and school workers are encouraged to apply on behalf of families they support.


April – 2,257 breakfasts and 5,934 lunches are delivered in the Easter holiday period

July/August School Summer Holidays – Dundee Bairns breaks it’s own record, delivering a whopping 20,424 lunches and 7,027 breakfasts over the school holidays to children attending community projects in areas of high multiple deprivation

October – 5,374 lunches and 1,625 breakfasts are delivered in the Autumn school holidays in Dundee

December – Staff at the Apex Hotel Dundee collect food to make 80 food hampers to be donated to families over Christmas. Dundee Bairns delivers these as well as 130 £30 food vouchers to families as the Christmas school holidays begin.

2020 - Fleet of Foot

April –  Genna Millar is employed as Project Co-ordinator for Dundee Bairns as part of a 3-year funding grant from Rank Foundation for a full-time employee.

What begins as a normal school holiday provision very quickly becomes a quick change for Dundee Bairns and the charity adapts along with many others in the city to become an emergency food provider, sitting amongst 26 others in Dundee’s Food Insecurity Network.

From the period of 31st March to 19th August 2020, Dundee Bairns delivers over 56,624 individual cold packed lunches across 17 community hubs and projects, as well as supplying 160 families per week for 18 weeks at Coldside and Rowantree food hubs with weekly grocery supplies in partnership with the Siobhan Trust.

A Dundee Bairns Small Grant fund is established, and supports around 36 projects in total with basic food provision for children and families.

June – Dundee Bairns announces a milestone 300,000 meals delivered since 2016

July – Dundee Bairns partners with DCA and Dundee Science Centre, funding art and science packs to help children who have now been home from school since March.

August – With children back at school, Dundee Bairns explores getting Tea Clubs back into schools to help support families facing hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

October – 3,500 meals are delivered to 15 projects, along with bags of groceries to support food hubs in Coldside and Menzieshill

November – Cosy Bairns, a new clothing project by Dundee Bairns to address the issue of ventilated classrooms and outdoor learning is incepted and begins collecting referrals from every primary, secondary and nursery school in Dundee.  A fundraising target of £86,000 is established and met in a matter of weeks. orders are placed for clothing with local and national suppliers.

December – Dundee Bairns delivers over £12,000 in vouchers to over 300 families referred by School Family Development Workers, targeting around 650 children. Once again the Apex Hotel Staff provide 50 food hampers which are also distributed. Partnering with DCA, 250 activity packs are delivered alongside these.

2021 - Adaptable Growth

January – Cosy Bairns delivers clothing packs to 3,000 primary, secondary and nursery children across Dundee City.  This is a massive effort from many local partners, funders, volunteers and school workers.

February – The Cosy Bairns report is published

March – Dundee Bairns continues to explore new partnerships and new ways of working to support local children with basic needs.  Dundee Bairns grants a Small Grant to Ardler Primary school to support their new virtual cooking club.

April – Covid continues to curtail general activity for children and families, however 2,885 meals as well as 470 breakfasts are delivered by Dundee Bairns volunteers across 18 projects. Small Grants are given to a few projects for them to cater for children and families from food hubs and community projects. Groceries are supplied to Rowantree Primary School to support families there.