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Schumer: Help bring Greek yogurt to schools

In this photo from earlier this year, Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. Greek yogurt now accounts for a quarter of the total yogurt market after a dizzying growth spurt that is especially apparent here in the heart of upstate New York. AP Images

NORWICH — Sen. Charles Schumer asked federal officials Monday to make it more affordable for public schools to serve Greek yogurt, saying it would expose more students to the high-protein food and boost an already-booming business in New York.

Schumer sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking that he modify the federal school lunch program to incorporate Greek yogurt as a high-protein meat alternative.

Current school nutritional standards treat Greek yogurt the same as traditional yogurt, despite the higher protein content and cost of Greek yogurt, Schumer said. He said a change in standards would make it easier for schools to purchase smaller, less costly servings of Greek yogurt.

“With a stroke of a pen Secretary Vilsack could provide healthier foods for New York’s school children and an economic boost for yogurt makers and dairy farmers, two of the state’s most important industries,” Schumer said, adding that tofu was recently given its own standards as a high-protein meat alternative.

The Greek yogurt business has been booming nationwide as consumers seek healthy, “authentic” foods, and the New York state dairy industry has been a big beneficiary. Two of the largest Greek yogurt producers, Chobani and Fage, have built production facilities in upstate New York and buy tons of milk from dairy farmers in the region.

Schumer promoted his case Monday in visits to the corporate headquarters of Chobani in Norwich and the Fage plant in Johnstown.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said Schumer’s letter had been received and was being reviewed.

One comment

  1. This would be an almost monumental accomplishment if we could get enough people to sign off on it. Fage Greek yogurt in schools would represent a true commitment to making sure our children are getting better nutrition than sloppy joes and candy.