Nutrition and Wellness Programs
Special Milk Program Questions and Answers
What is the Special Milk Program?
The Special Milk Program is a federally funded program that provides reimbursement for milk served by schools, camps, and child care institutions that have no other federal Child Nutrition Program. The primary purpose of the program is to encourage the consumption of fluid milk by children.
There are two program options from which sponsors may choose:
- Paid Milk
In the paid milk option all students are charged for the cost of providing milk minus the federal reimbursement. Household income applications are not required.
- Free Milk
The free milk option provides milk free of charge to students who are determined eligible, based on the household income guidelines. Children who do not meet the household income requirements may purchase milk if participating in a pricing program.
Who qualifies for participation in the program?
The Special Milk Program provides reimbursement to schools and non-profit child care institutions that offer milk to children who do not have the option to participate in any other federally supported child nutrition program such as National School Lunch and School Breakfast. Non-profit child care institutions include summer camps, day care centers and homeless shelters devoted to the care and training of children.
Enrolled children may participate in the Special Milk Program if they
- Attend school and are under 21 years of age;
- Attend a child care institution and are under 19 years of age;
- Attend split-session kindergarten classes and do not have the option of participating in any other federally supported child nutrition program; or
- Are mentally or physically disabled and participate in a school program.
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 other school meal programs.
How are sponsors reimbursed for milk?
Milk is provided at a reduced rate to students and the school is reimbursed at a basic rate per 8 ounces of milk served. If the sponsor participates in the free milk program, low income children are eligible to receive free milk for which the sponsor receives the actual dairy charge of milk and the basic rate for milk served to all other students.
What are the sponsor's responsibilities for administering the program?
Sponsors must ensure that
- There is no physical segregation of or any discrimination against any child because of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or handicap in the course of the milk service.
- The same types of milk are made available to everyone,
- A half-pint of fluid milk, flavored or unflavored, whole, low-fat or skim or buttermilk is offered to eligible children,
- The program is operated as a non-profit milk service,
- Revenue is used for only the operation or improvement of milk services, and
- All applicable state and federal procurement rules and regulations for the purchase of goods and services are met.
Sponsors are required to submit monthly claims for reimbursements for milk actually served to children. Milk served to adults cannot be claimed for reimbursement.
When participating in the Special Milk program, sponsors must operate a pricing program or a non-pricing program. In a pricing program, the reimbursement is used to reduce the cost of the milk served to children. In a non-pricing program, children are not charged for milk separately but the cost of the milk is included in tuition or other school fees. Non-pricing programs can only be in the paid milk option.
An annual application must be submitted each year in order to apply for funding. Applications are for the federal fiscal year, October 1 through September 30.
How can you apply to become a sponsor?
To apply to be a new sponsor in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, Illinois Free Breakfast and Lunch, and Food Distribution Program, click on the link below to obtain the forms you need to complete for the programs in which you choose to participate. New applications may be submitted at any time. Applications are valid from the date of approval through September 30 each year.
Are there any additional application requirements?
Private Non-profit Entities
In addition to the above forms, private non-profit entities must submit a copy of the tax exempt letter showing status under the section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Private Residential Child Care Institutions
Private residential child care institutions must submit a license or a document indicating that a license is not required.