Chuck Schumer Engineers USDA Greek Yogurt Subsidy

The New York senator helps land a sweetheart deal for a politically-connect yogurt company.


Starting this month, the United States Department of Agriculture has announced that it will test out a new product in school lunches—high-protein, a.k.a. Greek-style yogurt—in four different states. Yet, what seems like an innocuous, even reasonable addition to the menu of foods offered to American public school students upon inspection turns out to be the latest example of corrupt nanny-statism masquerading as "for the kids" do-goodism.

The USDA argues that Greek-style yogurt is better for kids because it has more protein. And given Michelle Obama's new National School Lunch program offerings required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a higher protein, lower-fat, and lower-sugar yogurt seems like it would be a good thing, full stop.

Here's the trouble.

Greek-style yogurt is more expensive than other comparably nutritious yogurts. The USDA has to pilot this program in only four states—New York, Arizona, Idaho, and Tennessee—because the bureaucrats don't know if they can get such a highly perishable item to schools that are situated further from the yogurt distribution centers. And most important, there is one particular state and one particular business that stand to benefit from a big increase in Greek yogurt sales. Those would be New York State, where most of this yogurt is produced and Chobani, which sells the most Greek-style yogurt in the U.S., is located. All of which explains why the biggest manufacturer of Greek-style yogurt spent tens of thousands on lobbyists and worked so closely with New York's Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer to try to get this pilot program off the ground.

And even Schumer himself admits the economic benefits are paramount to his involvement. Schumer called the pilot program "a boon for New York yogurt and dairy industries, and it's beneficial for the health of our kids." But any yogurt would be beneficial "for the health of our kids" because yogurt is generally a healthy food.

What's most nutritious isn't always most popular though is it? What is healthiest isn't always the most cost-effective, either. And as it turns out, the new diet for students buying the subsidized lunch is neither.

Last year, when the new, Michelle-Obama-inspired lunch menus were announced the USDA declared the new standards would "align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America's schools. These responsible reforms do what's right for children's health in a way that's achievable in schools across the nation."

Tell that to the school districts that have since tried and rejected the new standards. New York's Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district found that students hated the new menus and it cost the district an extra $100,000 to comply. "Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money," assistant superintendent Chris Abdoo said in a statement. "I'm confident we can do better on our own next year."

A school district in Indiana lost $300,000 trying to follow the new lunch mandates. "[The USDA is] teaching our kids with this meal pattern that it's OK to throw away," food service director Lori Shofroth said. "We did a waste study on three different schools, and there was a huge amount of waste. That was just with produce, fruit or vegetables or milk."

Schools in California, Arizona, Texas, and Connecticut have also opted out for the same reasons. And as Baylen Linnekin pointed out back in September, masses of students at individual schools across the country rejected the one-size-fits-all-diet codified by these new rules. So why is the government introducing a more expensive Greek-style yogurt option when things already aren't going so well?

The answer is because a Democratic senator (Schumer) working with a successful and politically-correct business (Chobani) exerted as much pressure as they could on a willing USDA. Chobani spent at least $80,000 on lobbyists and that was after Schumer had started his Greek-yogurt campaign with the USDA. And remember too that Greek-style yogurt has already been touted as "one of the best private sector market opportunities upstate New York has seen in 30, 40 years," declared Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year. So of course he was happy about the USDA announcement. "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," Cuomo said. About other private sector opportunities in New York, like say, extracting natural gas from the Southern Tier, well, he's been quite a bit more recalcitrant, with the moratorium on drilling remaining in place for more than half a decade.

Greek yogurt may be high in protein, but so are a lot of other, less expensive and less politically-connected food products. Adding Chobani to the school lunch program is just a fat-lot of government cronyism.

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  1. Mmm, greek yogurt and granola. Delicious.

    “one of the best private sector market opportunities upstate New York has seen in 30, 40 years,”

    Mmmwait, what?

    1. Mmmwait, what?

      You just have to put on your corporatist thinking cap and all makes perfect sense.

      1. “Sen. Schumer, that phrase you’re using, it doesn’t mean what you think it means.”

    2. Well, everyone else is leaving, has left, or won’t put up with it much longer.

  2. Nice work, Moobs.

  3. This is getting beyond ridiculous and approaching insanity.

    There is nothing wrong with plain, full-fat yogurt. This whole “Greek yogurt” fad is stupid.

    Then again, I didn’t care much for my school lunches to begin with: “pizza” or chicken patty sandwich, fries, chocolate milk.

    Fuck school lunch programs.

    1. yeah!
      let the kids starve

        1. You assume one precludes the other.

          1. Not really. I just wanted to link to that image of Fry. What I actually assume is that the stupid sockpuppet is stupid.

      1. They are – they toss the school provided lunches for being PC, but inedible.

      2. Oh, excuse me, I forgot it was the responsibility of schools to feed kids, not the parents. I’m such an idiot.

        Nice to see you endorse keeping food prices artificially high. Now who between us is really pro-starvation?

        Go fuck yourself.

        1. not all parents can provide nutritional lunches for their crotchfruit.

          1. If only there were some way that people could have kids they can’t afford. One of these days a scientist is going to make himself very rich finding a way for people to screw without reproducing.

            1. Ah, you mean some guy who invents any of the following:

              (1) Just Pull the Fuck Out!

              (2) The Rhythm Method

              (3) The Pill

              (4) The Condome

              (5) The DiaFram

            2. …and that way will be by prescription only, and the pope will tell people that they’re going to hell for utilizing it.

          2. maybe they should consider that prior to growing and bearing said crotchfruit. And if they can’t feed their kids, why do they get to keep them?

        2. Don’t mind Nando. He’s one of the less bright trogoldyte’s that come on here to yell at us about hating the chilunz.

          1. I still wish I could delete my comments. Re-reading them, I see they add nothing to the conversation here, which is about subsidies and graft, not nutrition.

    2. Greek yogurt can be full fat (though the trend in the US seems to be toward all low fat. It is annoying when you want some full fat, unsweetened yogurt to have to look at the 700 different fruit flavored, skim milk yogurts on teh shelf). Its defining feature was that it is strained to remove whey, making it thicker.

      1. I hear ya. Fat free? Gross. They take out all the good stuff and dump a bunch of sugar in it instead. I can usually only find one full fat, no sugar option and it’s always in one of the giant tubs.

  4. Greek yogurt? Yeah, that will go over well with kids.

    1. Well, it will, when they add grape preserves or strawberry preserves to the mix.

      1. Don’t forget the high fructose corn syrup.

        Cronyism goes down better with subsidies.

        1. Chobani doesn’t use HFCS as far as I know.

          They are actually an example of a pretty great company — Turkish immigrant who found a yogurt factory being shut down, bought it, and launched a several billion $ brand in a few years.

          The school lunch program is bullshit, but I don’t see any harm in them getting their product served to kids over the grade F meat and cardboard pizza, and I don’t begrudge them for trying.

          1. The anti-HFCS fad is nonsense anyway. It’s just, what has to this point been, a very successful propaganda campaign by cane sugar producers.

            There isn’t one bit of evidence indicating that HFCS is somehow less healthy than any other form of sugar.

            1. Yeah but I refuse to buy shit with it because I’m tired of subsidizing the corn welfare queens.

              1. I get where you’re coming from there. That’s a valid reason to not wanting it. I don’t think boycotting corn syrup is going to help eliminate the subsidies, but I can appreciate the stance on principle. I just get so tired of ignorant people railing against something they don’t even understand when all they’re doing is regurgitating nonsense from activist groups and lobbyists that have been repeatedly debunked.

          2. I stopped buying Chobani ever since they removed hemp seeds from their Blueberry Power Flip yogurt. I won’t support any company that falls prey to such “reefer madness”.

            Chobani Removes Hemp Seeds From Yogurt To Comply With Air Force’s Strict Anti-Drug Policy

            Evaluating the impact of hemp food consumption on workplace drug tests.

  5. First Spitzer, then Weiner brought down. Can I possibly, possibly dream of it ever happening to Schumer? Let the New York dominoes fall!

    (Cuomo would be nice too, or Bruno)

    1. Once the video of Schumer getting titty fucked surfaces, his career will be over.

      1. Why did I imagine a lesbian roll mopping (aka tribbing) his chest with one of her feet down his throat?

  6. Lets not forget, to make plain yogurt palatable, esp to youth and more esp if it’s no-doubt low-fat/fat free, you must add sugar, lots of it… and there goes the healthfulness of greek yogurt.

    1. (checking the empty container in my waste can here at work) a 6 oz Chobani is 140 calories, 0 grams fat, and 14 grams protein. Less calories and more protein than regular yogurt.

      1. Because all we need to do is compare the numbers on the chart that Top. Men. deem important. No need to do any deeper checking than that. No need to ask why saturated fat is stripped from foods and marketed as healthier even though science says otherwise.

        Did that Chobani have “fruit” in it?

        1. I don’t recognize your handle. But you have made it into my “do not read” file in one day. Impressive.

          1. Is your decision based upon this thread alone? Other threads today?

            1. This thread; this comment.

              1. Oh noes! Mah feels.

        2. all the Greek yogurts have options that include fruit. So what? This isn’t about someone’s nutrition chart; it’s about the Moobster cutting the type deal his type constantly bitch about when someone else does it.

        3. Of course, kinnath must have had a fat-free cup. Full fat Greek yogurt has a nice helping of sweet, sweet fat.

          1. Yes, I have the fat-free cup. Cause short, fat bastards like me don’t need high-fat foods for breakfast 😉

            Actually, I eat them because I like them.

            1. trade carbs for fat, and you might end up being a short, skinny bastard…

        4. Exactly, he didn’t mention the carb grams and since it contains 0 grams fat, it surely had sugar to make it palatable.

          1. So regular yoplait raspberry yogurt is:

            170 calories
            1.5 grams fat
            26 grams sugar
            5 grams protein

            The chobani raspberry yogurt is:

            140 calories
            0 grams fat
            19 grams sugar
            14 grams protein

            If you consider 19 grams of sugar “lots of sugar”, then viola!

            1. Appreciate the data, but despite the bump in protein, it’s still a false choice. The cons of sugar (and lack of fat) outweigh the pros of protein. If I was short/fat (or a fat/skinny-fat thirdgrader), I’d avoid the sugar, not only for the waistline, but for the heart too.

              1. it’s still a false choice.

                Taken in isolation, maybe.

                Taken in the context of everything else I eat during the day, maybe not.

              2. Give me saturated fat over fructose sugars any day, in almost any food.

                1. Fructose? No fruit for you, then!

  7. Actually Greek yogurt is really healthy for kids because it is high in fat, especially SFAs that are satiating and necessary for kids’ brain development. But I assume this is going to be low-fat Greek ‘style’ yogurt.

    1. The fat has been removed and injected into Schumer’s pectorals. He will nurse the weaker students to ensure proper development.

      1. I can’t decide whether or not this is more than disturbing the image of McCain and Hillary’s skin sticking together like cold wet roast beef.

        1. Thanks to you both I’ve lost both my breakfast and my appetite for lunch. Two meals foregone toward a healthier, skinnier me.

    2. No doubt. Fat is still nutritionally un-PC. Wouldn’t want those youngsters getting fat now…’cause fat causes fat don’t you know.

      1. Except for the fat that turns blood into sludge.

        1. riiiggght, and eggs raise cholesterol. Since we’re throwing around circa 80’s nutritional myths.

    3. Of course it’ll be low-fat. Giving them the fat version would undo all the great health benefits of switching to this exotic Greek yogurt.

      And once they pile on fruit or organic brown sugar, the yogurt will be even healthier!

      1. Don’t forget the fat-free chocolate “milk” on the side!

  8. At this point, if this was all the government did, we’d be so much better off.

    1. Unfortunately what it means is that they’ve gotten their dicks into nearly everything that they have no moved onto sticking it in K-12 yogurt offerings.

    2. You’re right. I take back my comments about nutrition on this thread. I would much rather the feds spend tons of time making crazy charts and pyramids if it meant less time to screw with me in other areas.

      It’s easy to find out their nutritional recommendations are bullshit. It is much more difficult to get lower taxes, less regulations, less military adventurism, etc.

  9. New York is just preparing the kids for a Greek-style economy.

    1. or a life of greek sex . . . .

    2. This comment wins the internets today.

      1. Seconded.

    3. *slow clap*

  10. What the hell is “greek yogurt” and how does it differ from american yogurt?

    I’ve only seen yogurt made by lebanese people. They heat some whole milk, add some unused yogurt from the last batch, put into cups, and cover the cups with an old very heavy wool blanket to allow for a slow temperature drop.


      But our Mediterranean friend?which is strained extensively to remove much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it its thick consistency?does have an undeniable edge. In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half.

      By the way, I have read articles that say the production of greek yogurt produces vast quantities of liquid refuse that is very difficult to deal with. Environmentalists hate greek yogurt.

      1. Okay, that reminds me that when the yogurt was done there was a watery layer on top that was discarded. The finished product was thicker than yoplay style and pretty tasty. People bought that shit up (it was for a restaurant).

      2. It’s mostly vegan propaganda. Pig farmers would love to take acid whey ofF their hands for free.

        1. Right. But a yogurt facility in New York is not optimally located to supply large hog facilities in NC and IA. That leaves Chobani with a problem scaling up.

          1. It can also be used to power bio-digesters. The greens are freaking out about the effects of it being dumped in waterways, which isn’t happening. Anything can be improperly disposed of, but that’s not a reason to stop making yogurt.

            1. I didn’t spend much time looking into it. I was merely amused that one set of lefties was pissed off at the product loved by mostly hipster lefties.

              1. I enjoy the irony as well. Although I prefer Icelandic yogurt (which is not actually yogurt at all! Dun, dun, dun!)

                I think the real question is… Does Greek yogurt help Jaime Lee Curtis poop?

                1. I enjoy … irony

                  I prefer Icelandic yogurt

                  Nuthin’ sadder than an aged hipster.

                  1. “Oh, noes. My kibbee is dry!”

                    1. Nice deflection,Galactica Food Truck Free.

                      Why don’t you tell us more about how you were into Icelandic yogurt before it was cool?

                    2. Was it ever cool?

                    3. Haha, that site gave me “Vintage Gluten PH2050”.

                      I was gluten intolerant before it was cool!

                2. So what is Icelandic yogurt? Some sort of fermented fish product?

                  1. It’s technically cheese, since rennet is used to curdle it. Very thick, very high in protein, very little to no added sugar.

                    1. But does it come in hakarl flavor?

                    2. AFAICT, Chobani is what we used to call pot cheese or farmer’s cheese? Are those terms still in use, or have they gone the way of ice milk?

    2. I buy actual Greek yogurt and it is pretty awesome. 6-8% fat, it’s very rich and creamy, also makes a great substitute for sour cream.

      1. It’s great that you can find the real stuff. Even at places like Whole Foods (at least around here), the majority of it is low-fat or 0% fat “Greek style” crap.

        1. If you can find it, then save some and make it yourself. It’s super easy to make.

          (if greek and lebanese yogurts are the same)

        2. Yeah, we happen to have a Greek deli near our flat. Good pita bread also.

      2. Yeah, we’d eat it on baked kibbee which can sometimes be dry.

        1. You can also buy (or make) regular yogurt and strain it through cheese cloth overnight. Makes a nice base for tzatziki.

        2. And I have no problem with that. But it hardly qualifies as a “snack” food for kids then, does it?

          1. Well, when the kids grow up, get a job and have their own house they can eat any kind of snack food they want.

            My lawn: get off of it.

            1. After I mow it, of course.

            2. So, let me guess, you’re finishing off their pie with a big dollup of sour cream?

              1. Nope, pilfered halloween candy.

    3. It’s just regular yogurt that they let sit and strain off most of the liquid.

      It isn’t anything new. People have been doing that themselves for generations as a substitute for clotted cream without as much fuss for things like strawberries and cream.

      If you want to know why they call it greek yogurt I haven’t got the slightest clue. It literally has nothing whatsoever to do with greece.

  11. What about an idea like, say a school lunch program where the parents who choose to can donate extra food for the children who have less?
    but the government would never allow that.

  12. Do any of these jokers actually talk to kids? Adult food fads don’t exactly translate directly to their palates. So, let’s think through how this is likely to play out. They’ll give the kids Greek yogurt because it’s healthier. But, it won’t be. Because the kids will either throw it out or mix it with some jelly to make it into something they like.

    1. For some reason that reminded me of a show about life in prison that I saw on HBO when I was a kid.

      One of the guys they interviewed who was in for life said that everyone comes in saying they’re not going to go gay, but after the first decade, everybody eventually breaks down. He said people (himself included) took jams and preserves from the messhall, and smeared it onto another mans asshole and then ate it out pretending it was pussy.

      Hearing that was a defining point in my young life.

      1. Tossin’ salad.

        Chris Rock had a bit on that documentary.

      2. That’s why you decided to go to the seminary.

      3. This may be the most repulsive thing I’ve ever read in the comments here. Well done.

        1. I don’t think it beats the chuck schumer lactation comment, or the hillary and mccain roast beef comment.

        2. I was a normal kid who was going to grow up to be a normal adult until I saw that.

          Now I watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force and drink heavily. That day was when it all started to go off the rails.

      4. somebody needs to schmear some jam in Schumer’s mouth.

      5. Regular anal I can see. Even blowjobs I can see. Every adult needs some sort of sexual release. But eating preserves out of another man’s asshole and “pretending it’s pussy?” No, there’s something more there. If you want to eat an ass out, go ahead. But don’t tell me you needed to pretend it was a vagina. Just say you did it to relieve the extreme boredom and sexual tension brought on by years of incarceration.

      6. Tossin’ salad dude

        As much as I hate stupid laws, I hate going to prison and getting raped more. I hate it more than Tom Dubois does.

  13. Hot dogs and Doritos would be a better choice, says the average third grader.

    1. But, that’s just it. Yeah, that’s what they’re going to be inclined to eat. You can really really wish that they’d prefer Greek yogurt and spinach salad, but that’s just not what they’re going to eat. They’ll toss it out and just head over to the local McDonald’s after school. And barring that, they’ll simply buy a Snicker’s bar from the local convenience store.

      The thing is, that trying for the “perfect” is likely to actively make things worse. Sure, a hamburger and fries or a French bread pizza with a milk might not be ideal. But, it’s a hell of a lot better than what the kids are going to actually wind up eating because you’re more interested in taking some idiotic foodie pose than acknowledging their preferences.

      1. The owner of the lebanese place I worked at had no understanding of the picky palate of the average american child. So our kid’d menu consisted of a crappy grilled cheese pannini with fries.

        Most parents would try to get their rotten kids to eat sleek and lamb (or something), but the kids would have none of it. We had a lot of pissed off hungry kids to deal with. Fucking whiners the lot of ’em.

        1. The amount that some parents cater to their kids picky eating is just silly. I always ate what my parents were eating as long as I can remember and guess what, I’m not a very picky eater.

          1. My one sister-in-law is really good at this. The kids eat what she gives them or they don’t eat. They have never been given the option of being choosy. Her sister is the opposite: she will end up throwing an entire meal away if her son refuses to eat it. It’s the parenting, not the child, in most cases.

          2. “The amount that some parents cater to their kids picky eating is just silly.”

            I had the strict fire-and-brimstone mom who basically said, if I wouldn’t eat what she cooked or bought, I wouldn’t eat.

        2. My wife’s father was Lebanese. Great food. Sleek (sleeh) with onions is awesome. Sorta like rapini (broccoli rape) and garlic. Shove that in a bread and presto!

          Try and sell that Schumer.

          My kid loves it.

  14. If they want to add Greek yogurt, what they should really do is allow the local school districts to select whatever brand they wnat to use, the could use Oikos, or some generic brand or whatever.
    Why limit it to ONLY Chobani?

    1. How can you have cronyism w/o cronies?

    2. Why limit it to ONLY Chobani?

      Exactly. Similar to how the same amount of protein could be provided cheaper with regular full-fat yogurt so why choose this type, and this company?

      Getting the kids to even eat the stuff is a whole ‘nother issue.

      1. PH2050.

        It’s for the children.

        /walks out backwards gingerly.

        1. Haha. Of course, how could I forget.

  15. Let’s all argue about what kind of foods are best to eat!

    1. Long pig.

      Hands down.

      1. This is a libertarian board. No one here’s going to argue against the finest of all meats.

      2. Never heard of this, googled, was educated.

        It’s like I’m learning about everything except libertarian ideas.

  16. This is so fucking stupid. Trendy bull shit. Figures Michelle would jump on it. Besides, doesn’t Greek yogurt contain more fat?

    And what about Lebanese yogurt? Not good enough?


    1. Because thick yogurts are typically all marketed as greek yogurt in the US (there are others though like Icelandic, etc.) but they are actually better than “American” yogurt in that they arent thickened with corn starch, have less water content and higher protein content.

      You can get both full fat and fat free greek yogurt.

      Chobani is awesome because their yogurt is cheaper than most competing brands.

    2. Don’t you prefer shit from trendy bulls?

  17. It’s for the children you nay saying turds.

  18. Just wait until the liberals pushing this healthy lunch thing find out that a by-product of Greek yogurt is environmentally unfriendly acid whey. Should make for a good show.

  19. The Democrat’s principles of governance: 1) Subsidize things you like. 2) Ban things you don’t like. 3) Tax the hell out of everything in between.

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  21. Crony capitalism is enslaving the citizens and emptying the pocketbooks of main street. Enough already! Stop it, now.

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