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New York schools in Greek yogurt pilot program

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York has been selected as one of four states to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program within the National School Lunch Program, for the 2013-14 school year.

Cuomo sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about the program, in March.

As a result, New York, the top yogurt-producing state in the nation, was selected to be part of this pilot program. The USDA is now seeking bidders to supply 4-ounce and 24-ounce containers of Greek yogurt to schools across New York state.

“It is fitting that New York has been selected to participate in this national school lunch pilot program,” Cuomo said. “It is a win-win for the state: exposing our students to a nutritional product and expanding the marketplace for Greek yogurt producers and suppliers in New York state.”

The governor added that this program will provide the opportunity for schools to promote New York-made products and encourage healthy eating.

In January, the USDA announced that it would begin this program, which will test the cost-effectiveness of including Greek yogurt in school meal programs.

According to the department, Greek yogurt offers higher nutritional benefits than traditional yogurt. This food includes less sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and lactose than does traditional yogurt. It also has an increase in protein, per ounce.

Arizona, Idaho and Tennessee will join New York in this first-ever pilot program.

New York yogurt processors produced 692 million pounds of yogurt in 2012. In 2011, New York produced 554 million pounds of yogurt.

New York state is also the fourth-highest milk producing state in the country. The state supplied 13.2 billion pounds of milk in 2012.

State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine said, of the new program, “If it’s good for New York yogurt, it’s great for New York agriculture. This announcement is a tremendous example of how Gov. Cuomo’s pro-growth policies are paying huge dividends for the state’s yogurt and agriculture industries.”

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