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      New York selected to test serving Greek yogurt in schools

      New York has been chosen as one of four states to take part in a USDA Greek yogurt pilot program.

      The pilot program is designed to test the cost-effectiveness of USDA purchasing Greek yogurt on behalf of participants in the National School Lunch Program. If the pilot program is successful, yogurt could become available in schools nationwide.

      U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says New York is an excellent match for the program as the state leads the country in Greek yogurt production and is home to some of the largest Greek yogurt producers, such as Chobani.

      Tennessee, Idaho, and Arizona are the other states to join the program that is testing Greek yogurt as a protein-alternative on school lunch menus. The four states ordered a total of 199,800 pounds of yogurt for delivery from September to November 2013, the duration of the pilot program.

      The USDA is limiting the scope of the pilot program to four states due to yogurt??s perishable nature. Each state represents different regions of the country with varying proximity to yogurt manufacturers. This, the senator??s office says, will help test distribution through different warehousing models.

      If the program is found successful, yogurt could become a food permanently offered on the USDA Foods List for schools nationwide.

      Greek yogurt has twice the protein, less sodium and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt, according to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Richard Hanna.

      Schumer originally petitioned the USDA to create the program.

      "Schools in New York, and the other three states participating in the pilot, will soon see that Greek yogurt is an affordable and nutritious high-protein option for their menus," said Schumer in a media release. "I am proud to see this pilot plan reach this final step, because it??s a boon for New York yogurt and dairy industries, and it??s beneficial for the health of our kids."

      Students in Syracuse were part of a statewide taste test in April which helped decide if Greek yogurt would be served in school lunches nationwide.