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Special Milk Program (SMP)


Federal Special Milk Program

The School Nutrition Special Milk Program (SMP) provides milk to students in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve that do not have access to other Federal child nutrition meal service programs (i.e. National School Lunch (NSLP) Program and School Breakfast Program (SBP)).
School Food Authorities (SFAs) are reimbursed for milk served to students in half-pint increments. There is no federal requirement to offer free milk, rather pricing is based on the option selected by the school.

Allowable Milk Types

Pasteurized fluid milk meeting state and local standards, having vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • 1 year old: Unflavored whole milk must be served.
  • 2-5 years old (not yet in kindergarten): Unflavored low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk is permitted. Flavored milk is not permitted for children two through five years old in a preschool setting. Students enrolled in kindergarten that are five years old may follow the NSLP milk requirements, which allows for fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) flavored or unflavored milk.
  • 6 years old and older: Flavored or unflavored fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk is permitted
Milk sold to adults, as a la carte, or used in meal prep cannot be claimed for reimbursement.

SMP Pricing Options

SFAs must choose one pricing option:

Pricing Program with Free Milk Option

  • Milk is provided without charge to children eligible for free milk. Children who are not eligible for free milk pay the established price.
  • There is no reduced claiming category.

Pricing Program

  • All children are charged the same price. Milk is not provided without charge to children eligible for free milk.
  • All milk is claimed in the paid category.

Non-Pricing Program

  • All children are provided milk without charge, or milk is included in tuition, boarding fees, or paid by private donation or endowment.
  • All milk is claimed in the paid category.

SMP-Only Requirements


Civil Rights



  • Use the template SMP-Only Household Letter to communicate program information to households.
  • Note: This letter must be used in SFAs with NSLP and SBP that offer SMP to split session, half-day pre-kindergarten, or kindergarten students not found on a sibling's free and reduced meal application.

SMP-Only Contract


Counting and Claiming

Note: To determine the cost per half-pint of milk in SMP, divide the total dollar cost of all milk purchased during the claiming month by the number of half-pints of milk purchased. If milk is purchased in bulk, the number of half-pint equivalents must be calculated by multiplying the number of gallons purchased by 16. The cost figure should be carried over four decimal places, for example $0.2348.

Note: Schools in NSLP and/or SBP that offer the SMP to half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students not claimed in NSLP and/or SBP, must make updates to the School Meal Online Contract.

Reimbursement Rates



Point of Service


Financial Management

Financial records must be kept to document SMP revenue and expenditures. Funds must be utilized to provide milk at no cost or at a low cost to children. Allowable costs include milk, coolers to store milk, milk cooler repair, napkins, straws, and direct food service labor. 

Pricing Milk


half-pint cost + $0.02-$0.05 (administrative costs) - reimbursement = half-pint price X 180 operating days = annual fee


Food Safety



Read more about procurement requirements


Q: What procurement procedures do schools follow to secure milk contracts?

A: All SFAs must meet federal procurement (purchasing) requirements by documenting efforts to maximize open and free competition. Depending on the value of the purchase, the schools has several options.

Read about Micro Purchase Method (purchases costing less than $10,000)


This method is a non-competitive form of procurement where small-value procurements can be completed by the school quickly. The main requirement for this procurement method is the price must be reasonable and multiple purchases must be spread among similar vendors. This procurement method is ideal for small random/unexpected purchases, purchases that need to be made quickly due to outages, or for purchases for supplies that are purchased a few times a year.


Read about Small Purchase Method (purchases costing less than $250,000)


This method is a competitive form of procurement often called three bids and a buy where schools can quickly and competitively purchase and award contracts with a value of less than $250,000. This is the most common procurement method used. Schools can simply call, email, fax, or be in-person at the time of requesting the bid, provide the vendor/supplier enough information and product specifications to submit a bid (verbal or written), and the school will award the contract/purchase to the lowest bidders meeting all the requirements of the bid. The bidder must also be a responsible bidder; able and capable of providing the product or service being procured. Additional information and resources can be found on the 3 Bids and Buy website.


Read about Formal Procurement Method (purchases costing more than $250,000)


Additional information and resources for this procurement method can be found on the Formal Procurement Method webpage.




Record Retention:

Records need to be kept for all purchases regardless of the procurement method used, including micro-purchases. Examples of solicitation documents for milk bids, along with other milk procurement resources, can be found on the Milk and Dairy Procurement webpage.

Training Resources:

An online procurement training series is available and includes the following topics:
  • Introduction to Procurement
  • Micro Purchase Method
  • Small Purchase Method

Nutritional Quality:

All milk served and claimed in the SMP must be fat-free (skim) milk, low-fat (1%) milk, fat-free or low-fat lactose reduced milk, fat-free or low-fat lactose-free milk, fat-free or low-fat buttermilk, or fat-free or low-fat acidified milk.

Pasteurized fluid milk must be served. It may be unflavored, or flavored for children 6 years and older. Children 2-5 years old must be served unflavored milk. Children 1 year of age must be served unflavored whole milk. There is no requirement that a variety be offered.



Special Dietary Needs

See the Special Dietary Needs webpage for regulations and documentation requirements.


Gina Kulka, SNS
Nutrition Program Consultant
(608) 266-5770
Tanya Kirtz

Nutrition Program Consultant
(608) 266-2410