Children's Minister Sarah Teather insists that a final decision on eligibility for free school meals will only be made following consultations later this year.
However, the disturbing Children's Society forecast that over 350,000 children could lose their entitlement under proposed government changes to welfare provisions indicates that this is no time for complacency.
The coalition's favoured system of a universal credit replacing a plethora of benefits and tax credits need not of itself be a bad idea, but ministerial emphasis on cutting expenditure does not augur well for the future.
Different benefits and credits exist because they were designed to tackle specific forms of deprivation.
Bureaucratic tidiness is worthless if it results in children from the most deprived families falling though cracks in the system.
School meals are among the most important provisions to redress poverty, providing not simply a midday meal to children but, according to recent research, the main meal of the day for a third of all respondents.
The Children's Society reports that more than 1.2 million youngsters living in poverty are already missing out on this vital benefit.
Just over a fifth of primary school children registered for free meals fail to take up their entitlement and this rises to nearly a third in secondary schools.
The charity notes correctly that "there is no reasonable defence for this policy failure" and suggests provision of a free midday meal for all children living in poverty in England by October.
Teather puts her finger, perhaps unwittingly, on part of the problem by signifying that her conservative coalition "will have to think hard about the best way to decide who is eligible for free school meals so they continue to be targeted at those who need them the most."
She must know that social stigma remains a problem that leads some families not to apply for their entitlement, leading to inadequate nourishment, fatigue, lack of concentration and consequent academic underperformance.
Why can't a government with sufficient cash available to slash five percentage points off rich people's top rate of tax examine how best to surmount such problems?
Isn't it time to stop separating our children into those whose parents can afford to pay for school meals and those who can't?
It's over a decade since Scottish Socialist Party MSPs headed a campaign, backed by anti-poverty groups, the Scottish TUC women's committee, public-sector union Unison and members of other parties, to provide free school meals, water and milk for local authority primary schools.
The proposal, which, sadly, was defeated in the Scottish Parliament in June 2002, would have also empowered Scottish ministers to extend this provision to state-sector secondaries.
Scottish Labour, which opposed the Bill, spouted the usual means-tester's complaint that better-off children would benefit from a measure best targeted at the poorest - the same right-wing stance deployed against pensioners' heating allowance and child benefit.
The labour movement should have moved beyond such new Labour formulations now to reaffirm its commitment to universal benefits, including every child's right to a hot nourishing midday meal at school.
It works in advanced and enlightened societies such as Finland, where take-up of healthy balanced meals in schools is over 90 per cent.
Is it too much to expect Britain's politicians to put aside market dogma that sees children as consumers and to stand up for their health and educational progress?
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.