Medina Journal-Register — The dairy and Greek yogurt industries are getting a big boost from New York politicians.
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind the U.S. Department of Agriculture using New York to implement the strained Greek yogurt pilot program in schools. State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine also sent a letter to the USDA expressing the state’s interest in participating.
“As the nation’s leader in Greek yogurt production, New York is the natural fit to be selected to implement this pilot program,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Our state government is partnering with the private sector to bring down barriers to business growth and the results are showing in New York’s tremendous yogurt boom. New York state is eager to demonstrate that serving delicious Greek Yogurt in our cafeterias will both improve the health of our children while helping our schools save money – a real win-win.”
In January, the USDA announced that it would begin a pilot program to test the cost-effectiveness of including Greek yogurt in school meal programs. The program would also show the benefits of including strained Greek yogurt as a healthy, cost effective food entitlement for school meals.
In the last five years, New York’s yogurt plants have joined the Greek yogurt industry leaders, by more than doubling in number while production and milk production grew by nearly 850 million pounds.
The USDA is looking for potential yogurt vendors and producers and has asked New York school boards to participate in a federal pilot to use USDA entitlement dollars toward Greek yogurt.
“Today, we are one step closer to getting New York-made, healthy and protein-rich Greek Yogurt on school lunch menus across New York and even the country. It is a positive step that New York state plans to participate in this pioneer pilot program, which will boost nutrition for New York students, all while bolstering business for our dairy farmers and Greek Yogurt producers alike. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo has joined in this effort,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.