The Children’s Food Trust has expressed disappointment at the discontinuation of the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) support service.

The Department for Education has ended an annual £2,300 grant to help small infant schools fund free meals for their pupils. Schools with 150 or fewer pupils were given the grant to help deliver the government’s flagship policy of free meals for all children in their first three years at school. The grant had already fallen from the minimum £3,000 handed out the previous year.

Linda Cregan, CEO of the Children’s Food Trust, said: “If we remember the central purpose of UIFSM – to help every child eat better in their earliest years at school – removing this funding risks damaging the quality of the food on children’s plates, a sorry scenario as government finalises its strategy to improve the nutrition of every child in this country.”

The DfE said it has “always been clear” the funding was temporary to help “small schools put their meal services on a more sustainable footing”