UPDATE: Food Dive received a statement from Chobani's senior director of nutrition and regulatory affairs, Dr. Robert Post:
"We're thrilled at the success of the USDA pilot program and today's announcement to expand nationally. 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 healthy meal for kids. There’s still work to be done on getting recognition for all the nutritional benefits of our food and we’re excited to continue working with USDA on this front."
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Greek yogurt to be available for students to purchase through their school lunch programs nationwide beginning fall 2015.
- Chobani and a Buffalo, NY, supplier provided 12 participating states with Greek yogurt for a pilot school lunch program. In the pilot program, school districts could count Greek yogurt's high protein level, which is higher than traditional yogurt, toward goals for providing students with healthy meals.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement that the inclusion of Greek yogurt in school lunches "will increase demand for Greek yogurt across the country, while at the same time providing another healthy food option in the lunchroom," according to Press & Sun-Bulletin.
New York State is positioned to fare well per this announcement, as New York is the country's leading Greek yogurt producer. The state's Greek yogurt producers include Chobani, Upstate Niagara, Fage, and others. New York also has a plethora of dairy farmers who will benefit from the USDA's decision.
New York legislators, including Schumer as well as Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, have lobbied for Greek yogurt's approval as a separate school lunch food option for several years. It seems this has worked for the state and Greek yogurt companies.