What is the Special Milk Program?

The Special Milk Program (SMP) provides milk to children in school and childcare institutions that do not participate in any other Federal meal service programs. This program reimburses schools for the milk that they allocate to this program’s service.

Schools in the National School Lunch of School Breakfast Programs may also participate in the Special Milk Program in order to provide milk to children in half-day pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs in which children might be lacking access to the available school meal programs.

How Does The Special Milk Program Work?

What generally happens is any public or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or nonprofit private residential child care institutions and eligible camps may participate in the Special Milk Program, so long as they are not participating in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs. Participating schools and institutions receive reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each half pint of milk served. They must operate their milk programs on a non‐profit basis and must agree to use the Federal reimbursement to reduce the selling price of milk to every child. Any child at a participating school or half‐day pre‐kindergarten program is able to get milk through the Special Milk Program. 

3. What Types of Milk Can Be Offered and What are the Nutritional Requirements for the Milk Program?

For any participating schools or institutions, they are required to provide pasteurized fluid types of fat free or low-fat (1%) milk ONLY. These select milks are MUST meet all State and local standards and must vitamins A and D at the specified levels set by the Food and Drug Administration.

4. How Do Children Qualify For Free Milk?

Local school officials offer free milk under the program to low‐income children. For any child belonging to a family that is able to meet income guidelines for free meals, then is considered eligible.  The family of each child must apply annually for free milk eligibility.

View income eligibility guidelines here. 

5. How Much Reimbursement Do Schools Get?

The Federal reimbursement for each half‐pint of milk sold to children in School Year 2015‐2016 is 20.00 cents. For students who receive their milk free, the USDA reimburses schools the net purchase price of the milk. To see the most recent school rates of reimbursement, Click Here.