NY, Idaho lawmakers urge USDA to reclassify Greek yogurt as a protein

“We respectfully request that the USDA update its nutrition guidelines and education materials so as to include Greek yogurt as a nutritious offering and reflect its positive health attributes.”

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The lawmakers pointed out that under current USDA “MyPlate” guidelines, there is no differentiation between traditional yogurt and Greek yogurt, despite it having twice the protein. 

“Greek yogurt is packed with healthy protein and should be available to our children in schools,” Gillibrand said in a statement Thursday. “It’s time to make this commonsense change in our lunchrooms so our students can thrive in the classroom, and help grow our economy.”

In the letter, the members of Congress also requested that Greek yogurt be permitted as a protein option under the National School Lunch Program in order for schools to save money and serve a nutritious meal.

“By launching a pilot program in New York, schools could offer a high-protein, healthy lunch option for students at a considerably lower cost,” Hanna said. “The trial period would allow us to see the many benefits that could be gained by school districts, taxpayers, agriculture businesses and  — most importantly — in the health of our children.”

New York produces more than half of the Greek yogurt in America. Gillibrand and Hanna said the reclassification would not only help schools save money but also create more jobs and boost their state’s economy.

“New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry,” Gillibrand said. “And when we connect these businesses to lunchrooms across the country, we can give our children better access to healthy, nutritious food, while strengthening New York’s own dairy industry.”

Idaho also has a large dairy industry.