The Dannon proposal, which would see fluid milk added to the USDA Commodity Foods Program, was shared by the USDA at its annual industry meeting in Arlington, Virginia, earlier this week.
Under the USDA Commodity Foods Program, school districts can select commodities such as meat, grains, fruit and vegetables for procurement - typically at a lower cost - for use in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
They then have the option to send these procured commodity products to manufacturers to convert into finished products.
If, as proposed by Dannon, fluid milk is added to the USDA Commodity Foods Program, school districts could allocate commodity funds to fluid milk for the production of yogurt.
Then, conforming with competitive procurement rules, schools would then purchase products from Dannon's school foodservice portfolio, which includes traditional, Greek and bulk yogurt, from their selected distributor at a discount.
Dannon believes it could offer schools yogurt at a discount of between 30% and 40%.
“We applaud USDA for considering this game-changing proposal,” said the brains behind the proposal, Carolyn Gooch, national account manager, Dannon.
“Making milk available for yogurt production at a more affordable price is a win first and foremost for American school children.”
“Dannon urges USDA to move quickly to finalize this program change that will give schools greater flexibility to serve yogurt, and most importantly, deliver much needed nutrition to students in a delicious food they already know and love,” Gooch added.
Dannon said that under its proposal it could start working with school districts on their planning and purchasing activities for the 2016-17 school year as early as January 2016.
School Lunch Program
The USDA officially added Greek yogurt to the list of products available through the National School Lunch Program in April 2015 after two successful trials.
In June, New York-based Chobani was selected by the USDA to serve as the main supplier of Greek yogurt to the National School Lunch Program.
Chobani was paid the “significantly reduced” price of $148,019 to supply 115,914 lbs of low-fat, high-protein Greek yogurt to schools for children aged five to 18 in August and September.
On August 6, the USDA called for bids to supply a total 193,320 lbs of high-protein, low-fat yogurt in October, November and early December to schools in Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Vermont, Iowa, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, North Dakota and Washington.
Chobani was again selected by the USDA to serve as the main supplier.
“When it comes to kids, for us it's less about making money or moving market share,” Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer, Chobani, told DairyReporter in August.
“It's more about making an investment in children and providing them with healthier options in school - better food for more children,” McGuinness added.