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Revised: Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in CACFP, Q&As

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This memorandum was superseded by CACFP 17-2016

DATE: September 15, 2011
SUBJECT: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Questions and Answers
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), PL 111-296, modifies requirements for fluid milk and fluid milk substitutions in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on the implementation of these provisions.

Section 221 of the Act amends section 17(g) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1766(g)) by requiring that fluid milk served in the CACFP be consistent with the most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and allowing the substitution of non-dairy beverages that are nutritionally equivalent to fluid milk in cases of special dietary needs.

Fat-Free and Low-Fat Milk
Milk served in the CACFP must be consistent with the most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2010 dietary guidelines recommend that persons over two years of age consume low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) fluid milk. Therefore, fluid milk served in CACFP to participants two years of age and older must be: fat-free or low-fat 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. Milk served must be pasteurized fluid milk that meets state and local standards, and may be flavored or unflavored. Whole milk and reduced-fat (2%) milk may not be served to participants over two years of age.

Because the Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not address milk served to children under the age of two, our requirements relating to children in this age group are unchanged at this time.

Non-dairy Beverages
In the case of children who cannot consume fluid milk due to medical or other special dietary needs, other than a disability, non-dairy beverages may be served in lieu of fluid milk. Non-dairy beverages must be nutritionally equivalent to milk and meet the nutritional standards for fortification of calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other nutrients to levels found in cow’s milk, as outlined in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) regulations at 7 CFR 210.10 (m)(3). CACFP state agencies have the discretion to identify appropriate substitutions that meet these requirements. We encourage CACFP state agencies to coordinate with the state agency operating the NSLP to ensure consistency in identifying appropriate locally available substitutions.

Parents or guardians may now request in writing non-dairy milk substitutions, as described above, without providing a medical statement. As an example, if a parent has a child who follows a vegan diet, the parent can submit a written request to the child’s caretaker asking that soy milk be served in lieu of cow’s milk. The written request must identify the medical or other special dietary need that restricts the diet of the child. Such substitutions are at the option and the expense of the facility. The requirements related to milk or food substitutions for a participant who has a medical disability and who submits a medical statement signed by a licensed physician remain unchanged.

This provision is effective immediately; therefore state agencies and sponsors should notify facilities of these required changes immediately. However, to provide adequate time for training and technical assistance, full compliance should occur no later than Oct. 1, 2011. State agencies should direct any questions concerning this guidance to the appropriate Food and Nutrition Service regional office. Regional offices with questions should contact the child nutrition division.

Cynthia Long
Child Nutrition Division


Page updated: December 28, 2021

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.