By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland Local Government Correspondent
Campaigners say plans for free meals for all P1-P3 children must go on
Churches, unions and campaigners have expressed concern over moves to scale back plans for free school lunches for all pupils in Primary 1, 2 and 3.
The Scottish government has said councils can target poor areas and use the savings to cut class sizes instead.
But several organisations have written to ministers and the council organisation Cosla expressing "deep concern" at the suggestion.
They have said means-testing for meals would fail some of the poorest pupils.
The Church of Scotland, the teachers' union the EIS and the Child Poverty Action Group have written to the cabinet secretary Michael Russell and Cosla president Pat Watters expressing their fears over the revised proposals.
In the letter, the organisations say: "The current economic situation is putting great pressures on family budgets.
"The roll-out of free school meals to all P1 to P3 pupils is an important way in which government in Scotland can help relieve those pressures, at the same time as ensuring all young children get a healthy meal in the middle of the school day.
"Means-testing too often fails to deliver to the poorest and targeting is too often not an efficient way of helping the neediest."
They have urged the government to consider the important health, educational and anti-poverty benefits that giving free lunches to all pupils brings.
Critics have condemned the idea as a move to spend taxpayers' money on free meals for children from well-off families.
The row began after the new education secretary Mike Russell told councils they could ease off on extending free meals if they put more effort into cutting class sizes in return.
The government has said it still hopes to extend free meals, and its aspirations had not changed.
But the offer made by Mr Russell to councils was essentially a way of giving them more flexibility to make it easier to deliver on smaller class sizes.
The former education secretary Fiona Hyslop condemned some councils for making slow progress on the government's aim of cutting class sizes in the first years of primary school.
Some councils said they did not have the money to cut class sizes while others said they had better things to spend their resources on.
There were even veiled threats from the government to take education out of the control of councils if more was not done.
A few days later Ms Hyslop was demoted in a cabinet reshuffle and her replacement Mike Russell quickly made conciliatory noises to councils.