Updated 08/31/2012 12:14 PM
Lawmakers push for Greek yogurt to be served in schools
School is back in session next week and many districts have been trying to offer healthier choices in the cafeteria. But some lawmakers say there's one option that can make lunches more nutritious and more affordable. YNN's Chris Whalen tells us what that is.
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NORWICH, N.Y. -- Since it first hit store shelves in 2007, Chobani yogurt has gone across the country, around the world and even to the Olympics. Now the company, and lawmakers, want it to be a part of your child's school lunch.
"We are urging the USDA to make Greek yogurt a protein source for the school breakfast and lunch programs that feed 31 million students daily," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Yogurt, both traditional and Greek, is only classified as a diary product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but according to officials, the Greek variety contains twice as much protein, making it a viable, and more affordable, option for the government's MyPlate guide, which requires school lunches to contain fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein.
"You can replace a meat source with a yogurt. It's less expensive than a meat source, equally as healthy," Gillibrand said.
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.
And more production would mean a chance to help upstate farmers thrive.
"We have an opportunity here to let the market decide more nearly what the price of milk is, to keep these farms alive," said Congressman Richard Hanna.
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. Republican Wendy Long will challenge Gillibrand for her seat in the United States Senate while democrat Dan Lamb vies for Hanna's spot in the House of Representatives.