Senator Schumer pushes for Greek-yogurt to be added to school lunch menus

The United States Department of Agriculture is exploring options to add New York-made Greek-style yogurt to lunch menus across the state and possibly the country after a petition by Senator Charles Schumer.

Senator Schumer is calling it a â??major victoryâ?? for the New York economy, as the USDA hopes to complete their inquiry into the nutritional value of the yogurt in time to have it on school menus by April of this year. The USDA is specifically exploring the protein content of the yogurt, and will compare it against other items that are already offered on school lunch menus.

Currently, there is no crediting standard for â??strained yogurtâ??, also known as Greek-style yogurt that reflects the higher protein content.

Schumer explained that through this pilot, the USDA will now work towards adding Greek yogurt to the USDA Foods List, which is a list of over 180 nutritious foods that state agencies are eligible to buy with USDA food entitlement money. The pilot will help test market demand for Greek yogurt in schools, which would be categorized on the Foods List as an additional protein option â?? a meat alternative to achieve meal nutrition requirements.

Senator Schumer was the head of the congressional organizing committee for President Obamaâ??s inauguration, which featured New York Greek yogurt, as well as other treats from across the state.

"We applaud Senator Schumer and the USDA for their work on this initiative," said Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, president and CEO of Chobani, which has a plant in New Berlin, "This pilot program will allow schools better access to Greek yogurt, giving them a cost-effective, nutritious and delicious way to diversify their menus and supply the protein that students need. This is also a win for New York State's economy and our dairy farmers in particular, as it takes 3 pounds of milk to make one pound of Chobani."