Montana School Lunch Showcase

Pictures of Montana school lunches from the following schools (left to right): Bigfork School, Rapelje Public Schools, Target Range School, Rapelje Public Schools, Plentywood School.





Afterschool Snack Program

National School Lunch Program

NSLP PictureThe National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides children meals that meet USDA nutrition guidelines and supports both academic achievement and health during the school day. In Montana, half of the lunch meals are served to children free or at a reduced price, based on their family’s household income.

In Montana, the National School Lunch Program serves 80,000 students every day.


Public Notice: Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Bulletin SP15-2018, CACFP12-2018, SFSP05-2018, state agencies must submit requests to waive Child Nutrition Program requirements to their Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regional office. The Montana Office of Public Instruction School Nutrition Programs has submitted a waiver to the Mountain Plains Regional Office of the 3-year Administrative Review (AR) requirement and extend the review cycle that was proposed by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) on February 22, 2019 through  SP 12-2019 Flexibility for the Administrative Review Cycle Requirement . The goal of the waiver is to improve training and technical assistance and align reviews to support sponsors as they strive to operate high quality school meal programs.

November 6, 2020 Public Notice Waiver Request



Meal Pattern


USDA Tools for Schools

School Breakfast Program

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the School Breakfast Program ensures it is a healthy one. 


Public Notice: In accordance with Section 12(l)(1)(A)(ii) of the National School Lunch Act, the Montana Office of Public Instruction is providing public notice of its request for a breakfast review waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture. Once approved, this waiver would limit the number of Administrative Reviews requiring breakfast meal observation through June 30, 2022.  

Meal Pattern

Breakfast in the Classroom

Where? Breakfast is served in the Classroom.

When? School decides when meals are served. Typically at the beginning of the school day; during the first 10-15 minutes of class while attendance is being taken or daily announcements are taking place. 

Works Best For: Lower grade levels where children start the day in the same classroom with the same teacher each day.

Breakfast Reimbursement: To be reimbursed for breakfast meals served, proper meal counting procedures must be in place.

Breakfast After First Period

Where? Schools decide. For example: students can eat in the cafeteria, similar to traditional breakfast or take a bagged meal to be eaten in between classes or during next period.

When? After the school starts as long as it’s before lunch. For example: Students eat after first period, or during a morning nutrition break, either in the cafeteria, common areas or between classes.

Works best for: Older students. They are often not hungry early in the morning and tend to arrive at school closer to the start of the school day.

Breakfast Reimbursement: To be reimbursed for breakfast meals served, proper meal counting procedures must be in place.

Traditional School Breakfast

Where? Breakfast is served in the Cafeteria.

When? School decides when meals are served. Typically before the school day begins.

Works Best For: Small schools where buses and drop-offs allow most students to arrive at least 15-20 minutes prior to the morning bell.

Breakfast Reimbursement: To be reimbursed for breakfast meals served, proper meal counting procedures must be in place.

Grab 'N' Go Breakfast

Where?  Schools decide. Examples of location: outside, in the hall, in class, or in the cafeteria. Schools can even allow students to choose where they eat.

When? Schools decide. Examples of when: first thing in the morning, between classes, or at a mid-morning break. Schools can even allow students to choose when they eat.

Works best for: Schools of all sizes and grade levels.

Breakfast Reimbursement: To be reimbursed for breakfast meals served, proper meal counting procedures must be in place.

Special Milk Program


The Special Milk Program provides milk to children in schools and childcare institutions who do not participate in other Federal meal service
programs. The program reimburses schools for the milk they serve.

Schools in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs may also participate in the Special Milk Program to provide milk to children in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs where children do not have access to the school meal programs.


§215.7a   Fluid milk and non-dairy milk substitute requirements.

 Fluid milk and non-dairy fluid milk substitutes served must meet the requirements as outlined in this section.

(a) Types of fluid milk. All fluid milk served in the Program must be pasteurized fluid milk which meets State and local standards for such milk, have vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration, and must be consistent with State and local standards for such milk. Fluid milk must also meet the following requirements:

(1) Children 1 year old. Children one year of age must be served unflavored whole milk.

(2) Children 2 through 5 years old. Children two through five years old must be served either unflavored low-fat (1 percent) or unflavored fat-free (skim) milk.

(3) Children 6 years old and older. Children six years old and older must be served low-fat (1 percent fat or less) or fat-free (skim) milk. Milk may be unflavored or flavored.

(b) Fluid milk substitutes. Non-dairy fluid milk substitutions that provide the nutrients listed in the following table and are fortified in accordance with fortification guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration may be provided for non-disabled children who cannot consume fluid milk due to medical or special dietary needs when requested in writing by the child's parent or guardian. A school or day care center need only offer the non-dairy beverage that it has identified as an allowable fluid milk substitute according to the following table.

Nutrient Per cup (8 fl. oz.)
Calcium 276 mg
Protein 8 g
Vitamin A 500 IU
Vitamin D 100 IU
Magnesium 24 mg
Phosphorus 222 mg
Potassium 349 mg
Riboflavin 0.44 mg
Vitamin B-12 1.1 mcg


[81 FR 24375, Apr. 25, 2016, as amended at 82 FR 56714, Nov. 30, 2017; 83 FR 63790, Dec. 12, 2018]


§215.8   Reimbursement payments.

(a) [Reserved]

(b) (1) The rate of reimbursement per half-pint of milk purchased and (i) served in nonpricing programs to all children; (ii) served to all children in pricing programs by institutions and School Food Authorities not electing to provide free milk; and (iii) served to children other than needy children in pricing programs by institutions and School Food Authorities electing to provide free milk shall be the rate announced by the Secretary for the applicable school year. However, in no event shall the reimbursement for each half-pint (236 ml.) of milk served to children exceed the cost of the milk to the school or child care institution.

(2) The rate of reimbursement for milk purchased and served free to needy children in pricing programs by institutions and School Food Authorities electing to provide free milk shall be the average cost of milk, i.e., the total cost of all milk purchased during the claim period, divided by the total number of purchased half-pints.

(c) Schools and child-care institutions having pricing programs shall use the reimbursement payments received to reduce the price of milk to children.


(Sec. 11, Pub. L. 95-166, 91 Stat. 1337 (42 U.S.C. 1772, 1753, 1766); sec. 5, Pub. L. 95-627, 92 Stat. 3619 (42 U.S.C. 1772); Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980, sec. 209, Pub. L. 96-499, 94 Stat. 2599; secs. 807 and 808, Pub. L. 97-35, 95 Stat. 521-535, 42 U.S.C. 1772, 1784, 1760; secs. 805 and 819, Pub. L. 97-35, 95 Stat. 521-535 (42 U.S.C. 1773))

[Amdt. 13, 39 FR 28416, Aug. 7, 1974, as amended by Amdt. 16, 43 FR 1060, Jan. 6, 1978; 44 FR 10700, Feb. 23, 1979; Amdt. 17, 44 FR 33047, June 8, 1979; 46 FR 51365, Oct. 20, 1981; Amdt. 23, 47 FR 14134, Apr. 2, 1982; 82 FR 56714, Nov. 30, 2017]

Menu Planning

All required School Nutrition Program Sponsor and site menu documentation forms can be found and downloaded in the new Montana Agreement and Payments System (MAPS). 

Log In To MAPS


Cookbooks & Recipes


Menu Planning Tools

Indigenous Foods Resources

Please see letter linked HERE from Heather Dawn Thompson, Director of the Office of Tribal Relations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the USDA, and Tony Dearman, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) at the U.S. Department of the Interior to BIE operated and Tribally-controlled school leaders and staff sharing a few opportunities to serve Indigenous foods in Child Nutrition Program meals, and to ensure meal programs support the community’s food sovereignty goals.

Purchasing Food

Policies & Guidance


For more information, contact OPI School Nutrition Programs at 406-444-2501.

School Nutrition Programs Home