New York Senator Charles Schumer announced yesterday that the National School Lunch Program Greek yogurt pilot will be rolled-out across the US.
The USDA trialled Greek yogurt on the National School Lunch Program pilot between September and November 2013 in New York, Idaho, Arizona and Tennessee, following pressure from Schumer, fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Richard Hanna.
Phase two, which saw the pilot was extended to schools in California, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington and Mississippi, began in September 2014 and is scheduled to run until June.
On the back of these trials, the USDA concluded there is "high demand for Greek yogurt and that it should be offered nationwide," said a statement issued by Schumer.
"Starting this fall students across the nation will have the option to balance nutritious and protein-rich Greek yogurt on their lunch trays," said Schumer.
Much to the benefit of New York, considered the yogurt capital of the US, the USDA decision "will increase demand for Greek yogurt across the country, while at the same time providing another healthy food option in the lunchroom," he said.
"...recognition of the value of Greek yogurt"
New York-based Chobani, the largest manufacturer of Greek yogurt in the US, was selected to supply the first phase of the National School Lunch Program Greek yogurt pilot after successfully undercutting rival bids from the likes of Origin Foods and Alpina.
It was contracted by the USDA to supply around 200,000lbs of Chobani yogurt in 4oz pots and 32oz tubs to schools in New York, Idaho, Arizona and Tennessee - for which it was paid $279,000.
Unsurprisingly, Chobani welcomed the nationwide roll-out of the Greek yogurt pilot.
"We're thrilled at the success of the USDA pilot program and today's announcement to expand nationally," said Dr Robert Post, senior director of nutrition and regulatory affairs, Chobani.
“Providing students with affordable, delicious, nutritious food made with only natural ingredients is one of the most important things we can do as a company and the success of the pilot is a testament to the growing popularity of Greek yogurt and USDA’s recognition of the value of Greek yogurt as part of a health meal for kids," said Post.