The Chenango County-based yogurt producer will be the yogurt of choice in the USDA pilot program to serve Greek yogurt in school lunches.
Earlier this month, New York was chosen as a test state. Students will start seeing Chobani yogurt in the lunch line in the fall. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Richard Hanna were part of the group who led the effort to bring the pilot program to New York and for it to include New York yogurt producers. "Today's news is fantastic for Chobani, a great New York company whose product will now be tested in school lunch programs in four different states," said Senator Schumer. "What's more, this is the next step in ensuring that New York school children have access to a more nutritious, protein-rich product, which benefits our New York Greek yogurt producers and dairy farmers to boot."
The pilot program will test the cost effectiveness of offering high-protein Greek yogurt in the school lunch program, which feeds 31 million students monthly nationwide. The Greek yogurt pilot program would also promote the health benefits of Greek yogurt. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has twice the protein, less sodium and fewer carbohydrates. "Greek yogurt like Chobani is packed with healthy protein that our schoolchildren deserve access to in their school lunches," said Senator Gillibrand. "New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry. And when we connect Chobani to lunchrooms across the state and across the country, we can give our children better access to healthy, nutritious food, while strengthening New York's own dairy industry."
If the pilot program is successful in the trial states, Greek yogurt could become a permanent fixture on the USDA Foods List for school meals. "Thanks to USDA's pilot program, students throughout the country will soon be able to enjoy Chobani as part of their school meals," Rep. Hanna said. "This is a nutritious and healthy option for our children, and I am pleased that Chenango County's own Chobani will be in school cafeterias. This is good news for our state's growing Greek yogurt industry, as well as the hardworking Upstate dairy farmers who support it."
In addition to New York, Tennessee, Idaho, and Arizona will also participate in the pilot program.