After meeting with Chobani, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Richard Hanna announced support for the reclassification of Greek yogurt under the USDA's MyPlate nutrition guide, which requires school lunches to contain fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein. Currently, Greek yogurt is not differentiated from traditional yogurt. The lawmakers pointed out that it has twice the protein of regular yogurt. “Greek yogurt should be a protein option during lunch in our schools,” Senator Gillibrand said.“Our dairy industry is vital to New York State. Greek yogurt has so much protein because it requires up to three times the amount of milk. This is a win for our students and a win for our community.”
In their letter to the USDA, Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Hanna urged the Secretary of Agriculture to update the MyPlate nutrition guides to reflect the health benefits of Greek yogurt.
They asserted that Greek yogurt should be permitted as an affordable, high protein option under the National School Lunch Program, which is responsible for feeding 31 million students daily.
They suggested that the inclusion of Greek yogurt in the National School Lunch Program would save school systems money while purchasing wholesome meals for students.
If the reclassification goes through, Chobani would likely be at least one choice for students, meaning the company would have to increase its production in a hurry.
"We have to make sure that the farmers are ready to come back to increase their herds and produce more milk so they can fulfill this order," said Hamdi Ulukaya, president and CEO of Chobani.
If Greek yogurt does indeed become a protein option for lunches, it could likely be in school cafeterias by January.
The reclassification is the decision of the USDA and does not require a legislative vote, meaning that if Gillibrand and Hanna lose their seats in November's election, the ruling would not necessarily be affected. PD
—Compiled from Kirsten Gillibrand news release and Your News Now Albany