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Office for Food and Nutrition Programs

Special Milk Program

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Special Milk Household Application Memorandum FY 2018-2019
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Free Milk Income Eligibility Guidelines FY 2018-2019
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Special Milk Household Application FY 2018-2019
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Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk
  1. What is the Special Milk Program?

    The Special Milk Program (SMP) provides milk to children in schools and child care institutions that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs. The program reimburses schools for the milk they serve.

    Schools in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs may also participate in the SMP to provide milk to children in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs where children do not have access to the school meal programs.

    Begun in 1955, the Special Milk Program is administered at the Federal level by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Food and Nutrition Service, formerly the Food and Consumer Service.

  2. Who may participate?

    Any child at a participating school or kindergarten program can get milk through the SMP. Children may buy milk or receive it free, depending on the school's choice of program options.

  3. Who is eligible for free milk?

    When local school officials offer free milk under the program, any child from a family that meets income guidelines for free meals and milk is eligible. Each child's family must apply annually for free milk eligibility.

  4. How does the SMP operate?

    Participating schools and institutions receive reimbursement from USDA for each half-pint of milk served. They must operate their milk programs on a non-profit basis. They agree to use the Federal reimbursement to reduce the selling price of milk to all children.

  5. What is the Federal reimbursement?

    The Federal reimbursement for each half-pint of milk sold to children in school year 2012-2013 is 19.25 cents. For children who receive their milk free, the USDA reimburses schools the net purchase price of the milk.

  6. What types of milk can be offered?

    Schools or institutions may choose unflavored or flavored whole milk, low-fat milk, skim milk, and cultured buttermilk that meet State and local standards. All milk should contain vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration.

  7. How much milk is served annually in the Special Milk Program?

    In 2012, more than 66 million half-pints of milk were served through the Special Milk Program. Expansion of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, which include milk, has led to a substantial reduction in the SMP since its peak in the late 1960's. The program served nearly 3 billion pints of milk in 1969; 1.8 billion in 1980; and 181 million in 1990.

  8. How many institutions participate in the Special Milk Program?

    In 2011, almost 3,848 schools and residential child care institutions participated, along with 782 summer camps and 527 non-residential child care institutions nationwide.

  9. How much does the program cost?

    Congress appropriated $12.3 million for the Special Milk Program in Fiscal Year 2011, down from $15.4 million for the program in FY 2000.

    In Massachusetts for FY 12, $432,488 was spent on providing the Special Milk Program.

For more information:

In Massachusetts, please contact Kevin Dawson at (781) 338-6475

Contact the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Public Information Staff at 703-305-2286, or by mail at 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 819, Alexandria, Virginia 22302, or visit the FNS programs website.


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Last Updated: August 24, 2018
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