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

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2016-0047
FNS Document #
CACFP17-2016
Resource type
Policy Memos
FAQs/Q&As
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
DATE: July 14, 2016
POLICY MEMO: CACFP 17-2016
SUBJECT: 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

This memorandum explains the nutrition requirements for fluid milk and fluid milk substitutes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and includes questions and answers. This memorandum supersedes CACFP 21-2011-REVISED Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Questions and Answers, Sept. 15, 2011.

Background

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), PL 111-296, amended section 17(g) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA), 42 USC 1766(g), to require that fluid milk served in the CACFP be consistent with the most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) recommend that persons over two years of age consume low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) fluid milk. In addition, the Act provided the flexibility to substitute fluid milk with non-dairy beverages that are nutritionally equivalent to fluid milk for children or adults with special dietary needs. Subsequently, on Sept. 15, 2011 the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued the memorandum CACFP21-2011-REVISED Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010: Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Questions and Answers. That memorandum required that fluid milk served to children two years old and older and adults be low-fat or fat-free and allowed the substitution of non-dairy beverages that are nutritionally equivalent to fluid milk for children or adults with special dietary needs.

The Act further amended section 17 of the NSLA to require the USDA to update the CACFP meal pattern requirements to make them consistent with (a) the most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, (b) the most recent relevant nutrition science, and (c) appropriate authoritative scientific agency and organization recommendations. On April 25, 2016 USDA published the final rule “Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” (81 FR 24348). This final rule added the fluid milk requirements and allowance of non-dairy beverages outlined in memorandum CACFP21-2011-REVISED to the CACFP regulations under 7 CFR 226.20(a)(1) and 226.20(g)(3), respectively. The final rule also established additional nutrition requirements and flexibilities for fluid milk served in the CACFP.

This memorandum explains all the nutrition requirements for fluid milk and non-dairy milk substitutes in the CACFP and provides guidance on implementation. Milk is a critical component of the CACFP meal patterns because it provides nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of the body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. Consuming dairy products, such as milk, is especially important to bone health during childhood and adolescence when bone mass is built.

I. FLUID MILK
One Year Old Children

Beginning Oct. 1, 2017, one year old children must be served unflavored whole milk (7 CFR 226.20(a)(1)(i)). This is consistent with recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine. There may be some cases when a one year old child’s physician recommends low-fat milk if the child’s growth and weight gain is appropriate, or for other medical reasons. If it is medically and nutritionally appropriate for a one year old child to consume low-fat milk, or any type of milk other than whole milk, a meal accommodation may be made by following the substitution requirements outlined in 7 CFR 226.20(g). Additionally, breastmilk is considered an allowable fluid milk substitute for children of any age if a mother chooses to breastfeed her child past 1 year of age.

Children Two Years Old and Older and Adults

As stated in the Background section above, milk served to children two years old and older and adults must be low-fat or fat-free. Whole milk and reduced-fat (2%) milk may not be served to participants two years of age and older and adults. This has been in effect since Sept. 15, 2011.

FNS recognizes that switching immediately from whole milk to low-fat or fat-free milk when a child turns two years old may be challenging. Therefore, FNS is granting a one-month transition period. This means that meals served to children 24 months to 25 months old that contain whole milk or reduced-fat milk (2%) may be claimed for reimbursement.

Reimbursable milks for children two years old and older and adults include low-fat or fat-free milk, low-fat or fat-free lactose reduced milk, low-fat or fat-free lactose-free milk, low-fat or fat-free buttermilk, or low-fat or fat-free acidified milk (7 CFR 226.20(a)(1)). Milk must be pasteurized fluid milk that meets state and local standards.

Flavored Milk

Flavored milk contains all the major nutrients found in unflavored milk. Flavored milk (commercially prepared and plain milk that is flavored with syrup or straws) also contains added sugars and the Dietary Guidelines recommends that all Americans reduce their consumption of added sugars. To better align with the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation and help children develop healthy eating practices early, FNS established new requirements for flavored milk:

  • Children 1 through 5 years old: Meals served to children 1 through 5 years old that contain flavored fluid milk and flavored non-dairy beverages cannot be claimed for reimbursement.
  • Children 6 years old and older and adults: If flavored milk is served to children 6 years old and older or adults it must be fat-free. This is consistent with the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

CACFP centers and day care homes must comply with these flavored milk requirements no later than Oct. 1, 2017.

II. FLUID MILK SUBSTITUTES
Non-Dairy Beverages

For children or adults who cannot consume fluid milk due to non-disability medical or other special dietary needs, non-dairy beverages may be served in place of fluid milk. This has been in effect since Sept. 15, 2011 and allows the CACFP to better serve the dietary needs of its participants. 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. The nutrient standards for non-dairy beverages are outlined in the CACFP regulations at 7 CFR 226.20(g)(3). As stated above, non-dairy beverages served to children 1 through 5 years old must be unflavored due to the higher sugar content of flavored varieties.

CACFP state agencies have the discretion to identify appropriate substitutions that meet these requirements. FNS encourages CACFP state agencies to coordinate with the state agency operating the National School Lunch Program to ensure that the identified locally available substitutions are consistent among the child nutrition programs.

Parents, guardians, adult participants, or a person on-behalf of the adult participant, must provide a written request for the non-dairy milk substitution that is nutritionally equivalent to milk. A medical statement is not required. For example, if a parent has a child who follows a vegan diet, the parent must submit a written request to the child’s center or day care home asking that soy milk be served in place of cow’s milk. The written request must identify the medical or other special dietary need that restricts the diet of the child or adult. Non-dairy beverage substitutions are served at the option and the expense of the center or day care home.

A medical statement is required for non-dairy substitutions due to a disability that do not meet the nutritional standards of cow’s milk as described above. Requiring non-dairy beverages to be nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk ensures children receive vital nutrients needed for growth and development. A medical statement for non-dairy beverages that are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk provides the assurance that the beverage substitute is meeting the nutritional needs of the child or adult participant. The requirements related to milk or food substitutions for a participant who has a disability and who submits a medical statement signed by a licensed physician or a licensed health care professional who is authorized by state law to write medical prescriptions remain unchanged.

Yogurt (Adults Only)

Beginning Oct. 1, 2017, yogurt (6 ounces by weight or ¾ cup by volume) may meet the fluid milk requirement once per day for adults, only (7 CFR 226.20(a)(1)(iv)). State agencies have the discretion to begin allowing this flexibility prior to Oct. 1, 2017. Please see memorandum SP42 CACFP14-2016: Early Implementation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns (https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cn/SP42_CACFP14_2016os.pdf) for more information.

Allowing yogurt to substitute fluid milk once per day for adults offers greater flexibility to the menu planner and will help encourage consumption of a calcium rich food among adult participants. Yogurt may not be substituted for fluid milk for children of any age. This is because milk provides a wealth of nutrients growing children need, such as vitamin A and D, and comparable quantities of these nutrients are not currently found in commercially available yogurts.

III. COMPLIANCE

In order to ensure compliance with the milk requirements outlined in 7 CFR 226.20(a)(1) and this memorandum, centers and day care homes must document the type of milk served on their menu. This includes listing the fat content (e.g., whole, low-fat or 1%, and fat-free or skim) and if the milk is flavored. It is the responsibility of the state agency or sponsor, as applicable, to further ensure that the correct type of milk is being served when conducting reviews.

IV. SUMMARY OF IMPLEMENTATION DATES
Implementation Date Requirement
In Effect
  • Milk served to children two years old and older and adults must be low-fat or fat-free; and
  • Non-dairy beverages that are nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk may be served in place of fluid milk for children or adults with special dietary needs
Effective Oct. 1, 2017
  • Milk served to one year old children must be unflavored whole milk;
  • Flavored milk, including flavored non-dairy beverages, cannot be served to children 1 through 5 years old;
  • Flavored milk served to children 6 years old and older and adults must be fat-free; and
  • Yogurt may be served in place of fluid milk for adults once per day, unless the State agency chooses to implement this flexibility prior to Oct. 1, 2017.

Please see memorandum SP42 CACFP14-2016: Early Implementation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns (http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cacfp/SP42_CACFP14_2016os.pdf) for information on implementing the updated meal pattern requirements prior to Oct. 1, 2017. FNS strongly supports implementing the updated meal patterns, including the fluid milk provisions outlined in this memorandum, as soon as possible because it will greatly benefit participating children and adults.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this information to program operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions regarding this memorandum to the appropriate state agency. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela Kline
Director
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs

 

Attachment
07/14/2016

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.