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USDA Inks Deal With Chobani For Greek Yogurt As Meat Substitute In School Lunches

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Don't be surprised if the meat in your child's school lunch looks more like Chobani Greek yogurt.

The USDA has selected greek yogurt maker, Chobani to provide it's thick, protein-rich strained yogurt to public schools nationwide as a meat substitute.

The government agency made the announcement today, making Chobani the main provider of Greek Yogurt to K-12 school meal programs around the country.

Yogurt has long been on the federally-sanctioned list of meat substitutes in school lunches, along with other products including various beans, cheeses, eggs, and peanut butter. According to the USDA One-half cup of yogurt is the USDA equivalent to 1 ounce of meat.

Chobani was first selected in 2013, to be the exclusive provider of Greek yogurt in pilot program limited to schools in selected states including California. In early 2015, the program was made permanent. The yogurt company says today's announcement "confirms the success" of the program.

According to Chobani, schools were ordering 700,000 pounds of yogurt by the time of the expansion but so far, the New-York based company has not disclosed the value of its USDA contract.

"When it comes to kids, for us it's less about making money or moving market share," said Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing Officer, Chobani. "It's more about making an investment in children and providing them with healthier options in school – better food for more children."

Chobani recently made headlines when it released a sexy commercial featuring a same-sex couple. The company was also criticized by organic food advocates for using milk from animals fed with genetically-modified feed, and banned from stores like Whole Foods.

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