The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding a program allowing schools to serve Greek yogurt in school lunches.
A pilot program was launched in July 2013 in four states — Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee. Since the program's creation, 200,000 pounds of yogurt was served in schools participating in the initiative.
The USDA considers the program a success and will allow four more states to serve Greek yogurt in school lunches, according to New York's U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna.
Chobani, a major producer of Greek yogurt, is located in Hanna's district. Hanna said USDA's program not only benefits students, but also helps farmers and yogurt producers in New York.
"I am pleased that more students throughout the country will be able to enjoy Greek yogurt as part of their school meals," Hanna said in a statement. "This is a nutritious and healthy option for our children and it is great to see a New York state product leading this program. This is another exciting opportunity for Chobani, our state's growing Greek yogurt industry and the hardworking upstate dairy farmers who support it."
Gillibrand, who has teamed with Hanna and Schumer to support including Greek yogurt in school lunches, said expanding the program will not only help the industry in New York, but also benefit children in schools that participate in the initiative.
"Greek yogurt like Chobani is packed with healthy protein that our schoolchildren deserve access to in their school lunches," Gillibrand said. "New York state is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry. And when we connect Chobani to lunch rooms 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."
New York is the leading producer of Greek yogurt in the country. When the state was named one of the four participants in the pilot program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the initiative as a win-win for New York.
Cuomo has dubbed New York the "yogurt capital of the nation." New York produced 692 million pounds of yogurt in 2012 — more than any other state in the country.