All children should receive milk or a milk substitute as part of breakfast and lunch everyday according to the CACFP guidelines. But the rules are different based on age, as to what type of milk to serve.

So here are the basics:

  • Children aged newborn to 11 months: Only breastmilk or iron-fortified formula
    • Breastmilk is allowed at any age in CACFP.
  • Children aged 12 months to 23 months: Unflavored whole milk (so just white milk)
    • Children between 12 and 13 months can still have iron-fortified formula as they transition to milk.
  • Children aged 2 years through 5 years: Unflavored fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk (again this age can only have white milk)
    • Children between 24 and 25 months can have 2% or whole milk as they transition to lower fat milk.
  • Children aged 6 years and older: Unflavored fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk and flavored fat-free milk
    • Be careful when serving your school-age classroom flavored milk because not all kindergarten students are 6 years old. Remember that the rule goes by age not grade.

When you have a child with a special dietary need, you need to substitute an equivalent non-dairy beverage in place of cow’s milk.  Some examples are: lactaid, soy, coconut, almond, cashew, or pea milk.

Facts to remember about flavored milk and CACFP:

  • Flavored milk cannot be part of a meal or snack for children 5 years or younger.
  • Homemade flavored milk, made by adding flavored straws, syrup, or powder to milk cannot be part of a reimbursable meal or snack for children 5 years and under and can only count for children 6 years and older if it is fat free (milk and flavoring).

For additional information and resources visit USDA Food and Nutrition Service

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