Brockport, N.Y. - “A tray of lunch has five components of a meal, the meat/meat alternate or the protein component, bread - this year has to be whole grains, a fruit, vegetable and fluid milk,” explained Jim Liebow, Food Service Director for Brockport School District.
On that lunch tray there must be two meat or meat alternates, said Liebow. Currently four-ounces of yogurt counts as one meat alternate, regardless if it's non-fat yogurt that has three-grams of protein, or Greek yogurt with nine-grams of protein.
“If the U.S.D.A. was able to credit those four-ounces of Greek yogurt for a two meat/meat alternate that would certainly ease things,” said Liebow.
This change is something both Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are asking for.
They want more schools to be able to add Greek yogurt to their lunchrooms, helping with nutrition and benefiting New York's dairy industry.
“It [Greek yogurt] does cost more,” said Geraldo Torres, School Nutrition Specialist for the Rush-Henrietta School District, “we took that into consideration but at the same time we wanted something that the students not only would take but that they would eat.”
The Rush-Henrietta School District switched to Greek yogurt at the beginning of the month. But because of the cost, they offer it with breakfast in all nine schools and a la carte, but only as a meat alternate for lunch in the elementary schools.
“If it were to be recognized because of the more protein in Greek yogurt as a two meat/meat alternate it would be something I think other districts would look at and it would be very favorable cost savings,” said Torres.
Currently four-ounces of Greek yogurt is about 13-cents more expensive than four-ounces of regular non-fat yogurt.