The U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching a pilot program that could place Greek yogurt in school cafeterias across the country by April as a protein, or meat alternative, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday.

The commitment marks a victory for Schumer, who petitioned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last June to add Greek yogurt to the list of proteins that meet the USDA's school lunch standards. The move would also provide a boost for dairy and Greek yogurt producers in New York like Chobani and Fage. Currently approved school meat substitutes include nuts, tofu, beans, cheese and eggs.

Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, notified Schumer of the agency's decision in a letter Wednesday. The USDA will research vending opportunities and school interest in the coming weeks.

"Soon, New York-made, healthy and protein-rich Greek yogurt could be what's for lunch in schools across New York and even the country," Schumer said in a statement Wednesday. "The USDA's pilot program will serve as an important first step in boosting nutrition for New York students, all while bolstering business for our dairy farmers and Greek yogurt producers alike.”

The New York senator, who led the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, also served Chobani and Fage Greek yogurts at the inaugural luncheon earlier this month.

Greek, or strained, yogurt is known for a higher protein content than regular American yogurt. This year's new healthy school lunch guidelines, backed by Vilsack and first lady Michelle Obama, require between 8 and 12 ounces of protein in K-12 school lunches. The protein and grain limits were lifted in December, however, following extensive backlash from students who complained of being hungry.

"The list of USDA food product offerings is routinely updated, with new and more healthful products added every year," Concannon wrote in his letter, which was released as part of Schumer's statement. "Protein products are often among the most popular items chosen from the list, and the inclusion of strained yogurt could help create a more rounded set of protein offerings for schools within the USDA Foods program.''

Vilsack also announced Wednesday that the USDA will soon release a long-awaited set of guidelines for healthy school snacks as the agency continues its most sweeping overhaul of school food in more than 30 years.

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  • Philippines

    "NO FRILLS school lunch in the Philippines" <a href="http://imgur.com/CwcCu"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/CwcCul.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • Finland

    "It's rice with a chicken sauce that has some salami mixed in. A bit of a weird combination but worked fine. Dessert is chocolate mousse." <a href="http://imgur.com/5xsIP"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/5xsIPl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • South Korea

    "You always get rice. Always. Sometimes they'll mix it up and add some grains or curry to it. Top right corner are Sesame leaves with a sweet honey sauce. You're suppose to use the leaves as a wrap and pack it with rice. This particular soup was a pumpkin potato soup. The food in the middle is a Korean pancake. It's made from a batter of eggs and green onions. Sometimes they'll add peppers and octopus. Above the pancake is Kimchi. Again, it's like rice. You're always gonna have it. It's a traditional Korean dish made with fermented cabbage. Chili paste is used to make it. It's almost like wine. The more it ages, the better it tastes. Top right is a sweet and sour salad that's mostly made with cucumbers and carrots. A lot of chili's are used to make Korean food so it's all relatively spicy. 'Good for the soul!'" <a href="http://imgur.com/USjuA"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/USjuAl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I see your Finnish, and Swedish school lunch, and I raise you our USA school lunch...." <a href="http://imgur.com/YLkxw"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/YLkxwl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • India

    "I see your Finnish school lunch & South Korean school lunch and raise you South Indian School lunch" <a href="http://imgur.com/LEZPp"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/LEZPpl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I see all of your school lunches, and raise you my American school lunch..." <a href="http://imgur.com/5AGar"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/5AGarl.png" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I see your Finnish and Swedish school lunches and fold...with my American lunch." <a href="http://imgur.com/usWvG"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/usWvGl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "This is an american high school lunch!" <a href="http://imgur.com/6wTIz"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/6wTIzl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • Denmark

    "On this plate of danish cuisine is roasted duck, potatoes and red/white cabbage." <a href="http://imgur.com/SjDCh"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/SjDChl.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • England

    "Time for an English school lunch." <a href="http://imgur.com/37KWk"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/37KWkl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A

    "I see your South Korean school lunch and raise you my American school lunch." <a href="http://imgur.com/e4o9t"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/e4o9tl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "A typical school lunch at La Joya High School (parts of it were raw!!)... chicken??" <a href="http://imgur.com/W0cEJ"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/W0cEJl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • China

    "School lunch in China." <a href="http://imgur.com/p24dD"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/p24dDl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I see all of your international lunches and raise you a Georgian school lunch. 'Merica" <a href="http://imgur.com/ynDv5"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/ynDv5l.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I See Your Swedish School Lunch, But Here's My 'Healthy' American Lunch." <a href="http://imgur.com/qqgq6"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/qqgq6l.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • Japan

    "I see your Finnish, Swedish, and American school lunch, and I raise you a Japanese Kyushoku (school lunch)...." <a href="http://imgur.com/UskXj"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/UskXjl.png" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • Japan

    "I see your Finnish, Swedish, and US lunches, and raise you the (free) school lunch in Japan." <a href="http://imgur.com/bxTzz"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/bxTzz.jpg" alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" /></a>

  • Japan

    "Top left: Yaki-onigiri (grilled rice ball). Top right: Gobou salad (burdock root with broccoli, corn, mayo, and tuna) Bottom left: Cheese Bottom right: Curry udon" <a href="http://imgur.com/eGi6b"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/eGi6bl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "Excuse me, Chicago school lunch comin through..." <a href="http://imgur.com/ZyCH1"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/ZyCH1l.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • U.S.A.

    "I see your amazing school lunch and hate you because this is American school lunch." <a href="http://imgur.com/MMt4y"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/MMt4yl.jpg?1" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • Sweden

    "This is why I eat my school lunch" <a href="http://imgur.com/GllUO"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/GllUOl.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • Finland

    "This is one of the many school lunches I ate while living in Finland for a year. Fresh salad, smoked salmon, broccoli and potatoes" <a href="http://imgur.com/Be3xi"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/Be3xil.jpg" title="Hosted by imgur.com" alt="" /></a>

  • USA School Lunch

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ryan8227"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100002818538118/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ryan8227">ryan8227</a>:<br />

  • Latin School of Chicago school lunch

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Trisha_Flassing"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/741909382/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Trisha_Flassing">Trisha Flassing</a>:<br />Acorn squash stuffed with sausage, warm farro salad and sage cream sauce.