Chuck Schumer and the great Greek-yogurt grift

posted at 11:41 am on August 1, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Why the federal government feels compelled to occupy itself with top-down dictates for public-school lunchroom standards, rather than allowing individual states to find the most efficient solutions for their particular needs, I’m sure I don’t know — but I have a funny feeling that shameless crony capitalism flying beneath the convenient banner of “for the children!” do-goodism and using the convenient regulatory framework of the overbearing nanny-state to a particular advantage… might have at least a little something to do with it.

In any event, most recently thanks to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the feds do have a role in school lunches nationwide — and some wily lobbyists and the lawmakers who love them are playing those regulations like a damn fiddle.

Chobani Greek yogurt will be served in school lunches as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program, federal lawmakers announced Friday.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, Oneida County, pushed for Chobani’s inclusion in the pilot program, which will launch in September in four states — New York, Tennessee, Idaho and Arizona.

New York leads the country in Greek yogurt production; Chobani is based in Chenango County.

“Starting this school year, students across the state will be balancing New York-made Chobani Greek yogurt on their lunch trays,” Schumer said in a statement Friday.

“This is the next step in ensuring that New York schoolchildren have access to a more nutritious, protein-rich product, which benefits our New York Greek yogurt producers and dairy farmers to boot.”

My, doesn’t that sound nice, and purely all about the honest attempt to serve America’s school children with a healthy dairy accompaniment for their midday meal with nothing untoward whatsoever going on? Should it really matter that Greek yogurt specifically both highly perishable in relation to other potential lunch additions, as well as more expensive than other non-Greek yet nutritious yogurts? It’s for the kids, right?

Ahem.

This follows a fix in the form of aggressively shrewd arm-twisting of the federal bureaucracy by New Sen. Schumer, with ancillary help from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Richard Hanna of upstate New York.

It’s all about the annual $11 billion school lunch program that plays out in 100,000 schools nationwide. Greek yogurt is a new and thriving industry largely based in upstate New York and it wanted a piece of the action.

But they confronted various obstacles at the Department of Agriculture and the New Yorkers, led by Schumer, went into action, including at least three calls by Schumer to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Schumer’s proposal of a pilot program in four states, including New York.

The department agreed in a stunningly short time, given the glacial pace at which it works in making any changes to the lunch program, and has now announced that Chobani, the new king of the hill in Greek yogurt, will be sole vendor for the pilot program.

Every time I walk into a Whole Foods or some high-end grocery store, there are something like eight different brands of Greek yogurt occupying the dairy shelves. The stuff is all the health-food rage right now, and the Greek-yogurt market is clearly a pretty competitive micro-industry. I have no doubts in my mind that Chobani would not merely like to secure a cozy government contract for themselves, but also deny it to their several competitors, by whatever rent-seeking means necessary — and as much as people like to blame businesses for this type of thing, a big government that creates and caters to the opportunity to do so is the real root of the problem.


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May Schumer choke, on Greek yoghurt.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

The culture of corruption.

Drained Brain on August 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Was “Victory Gin” owned by members of The Party?

Was Orwell that prescient, that devious? Or have our contemporary political masters finally outdone him?

aquaviva on August 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I just threw out all my Chobani.

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

The culture of corruption.

Drained Brain on August 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Brilliant

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I will not be purchasing anymore Chobani for my household.

birdwatcher on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Check out the sugar content in Chobani. There are better alternatives. I stopped eating the stuff because of it.

Cleombrotus on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Wait for it. . .

A donation link between Chobani and a particular Senator from New York.

This guy always has that smirk that tells me he’s pulling something over on you and he’s laughing behind your back at your foolishness in going along with him.

My wife works at a public school. She is appalled at the amount of food that is just dumped into the trash every day by the kids.

kurtzz3 on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

The culture of corruption.

Drained Brain on August 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I see what you did there.

bigmacdaddy on August 1, 2013 at 11:52 AM

This guy always has that smirk that tells me he’s pulling something over on you and he’s laughing behind your back at your foolishness in going along with him.

kurtzz3 on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

You give him too much credit. He’s not that self-aware. The smirk has more to do with his mental state than that.

Cleombrotus on August 1, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I have had lunch with my children at an elementary school cafeteria.

There is no doubt in my mind that AT LEAST 50% of this yogurt will be tossed out, untouched. 75% may be a better number.

What a waste !

Jabberwock on August 1, 2013 at 11:54 AM

How conveeeeeeeenient.

I’m a Chobani fan – only because if I’m going to eat yogurt, Chobani has a little more protein than other brands.

Isn’t it funny how the libs want to reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging people to buy local – yet the Feds/Dems are prohibiting schools from sourcing their food items locally, and are forcing them to purchase yogurt from a single supplier?

Hill60 on August 1, 2013 at 11:55 AM

If any of you have a Trader Joes get their brand. It’s cheaper and better…

sandee on August 1, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Follow the money: these yogurt contracts will fund more letists

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 11:56 AM

argg, leftists

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Yogurt is fun in food fights!
Go for it.

losarkos on August 1, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Greek yogurt is a new and thriving industry largely based in upstate New York

Beware Phony Greeks

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

If any of you have a Trader Joes get their brand. It’s cheaper and better…

sandee on August 1, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Trader Joe’s greek yogurt is not the real thing, they use starch thickeners in theirs.

Pablo Honey on August 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Why does Chuck Schumer hate the environment so much?

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/23/greek_yogurt_toxic_waste_hazard_partner/

SoRight on August 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Beware Phony Greeks…bearing sugary laden gifts.

faraway on August 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Cleombrotus on August 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Anatomy Of A Politician.

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Greek yoghurt with pork.

Anyone wanna try?

Shy Guy on August 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM

A donation link between Chobani and a particular Senator from New York.

kurtzz3 on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

This

Lost in Jersey on August 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Wow, I’m now getting emails from Townhall to my Hot Air nym. Creepy in a NSA way.

John the Libertarian on August 1, 2013 at 12:08 PM

John the Libertarian on August 1, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Yep

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:09 PM

I will say though that Chobani isn’t crazy expensive. Like $1-$1.25 compared to the $.75 yogurts on the shelves. That’s here in NY where it’s considered a local product, might be more expensive other parts of the country.

That said, I doubt any student cares one bit about the opportunity to buy it as part of their lunch. I know if the stuff had been around when I was in high school (it may have been actually… don’t really know) I wouldn’t have bought it available or not. I got the pizza and a Powerade. Didn’t care what was on the menu otherwise.

This is just Schmuckie doing what he does best, pork spending. Well, second best after generic being an arsebag, but this qualifies as that, too. Upstate NY media love this too, just as they do all of his pork projects that so prove he cares about us little people north of Westchester. Pukeworthy really, how every time a statewide-elected politician bothers to give the slightest bit of attention to us, they fawn over it. Usually when they do it comes like this: DC/Albany deciding to hand a fraction of our own money back to us like it’s a great prize. And then we wonder why NYC runs this state and dismisses us as a bunch of dumb hicks.

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 12:11 PM

There is more sugar in Oikos than Chobani.
Chobani was my favorite. Will have to rethink eating as I go forward with the rest of my life.

vityas on August 1, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Upstate NY media love this too, just as they do all of his pork projects that so prove he cares about us little people north of Westchester. Pukeworthy really, how every time a statewide-elected politician bothers to give the slightest bit of attention to us, they fawn over it. Usually when they do it comes like this: DC/Albany deciding to hand a fraction of our own money back to us like it’s a great prize. And then we wonder why NYC runs this state and dismisses us as a bunch of dumb hicks.

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Upstate NY media spends all of its time either wishing it was downstate or thinking it’s the New York Times.

Cuomo’s retarded “yogurt summit,” a whitewater rafting trip in the Adirondacks featuring Cuomo, and casino gambling is apparently the ticket for reversing years of economic malaise.

Time to get out a hacksaw and cut along the Westchester County line.

Red Cloud on August 1, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Upstate NY media love this too, just as they do all of his pork projects that so prove he cares about us little people north of Westchester. Pukeworthy really, how every time a statewide-elected politician bothers to give the slightest bit of attention to us, they fawn over it. Usually when they do it comes like this: DC/Albany deciding to hand a fraction of our own money back to us like it’s a great prize. And then we wonder why NYC runs this state and dismisses us as a bunch of dumb hicks.

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Upstate NY media spends all of its time either wishing it was downstate or thinking it’s the New York Times.

We’d do well to just cut around the Westchester County lines, say adios, then invite the media to buzz off.

Red Cloud on August 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM

There, adjusted. ; )

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM

OT: Wow! This is troubling..!

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Chobani are just playing the game, I don’t hold it against them– blame this pathetic crony system

Chobani’s story is actually quite fascinating, a true American Dream type of story. I believe it was a poor Kurdish immigrant who started it and exploded the greek yogurt industry in just a few years

I myself don’t eat it because I’m LACTOSE INTOLERANT– as are a huge percentage of children

I was force fed milk for years with school lunches and it made me sick, until my parents finally forced my school to provide me non-dairy beverages

Yogurt is in no ways healthy or necessary for children, especially in ethnically diverse places like NY where lactose intolerance rates are so high

thurman on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

The boys fancy themselves hi-tec spys. Approval from the top I presume.

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM

A carbohydrate disaster. Protein my ass.

Jaibones on August 1, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Chobani’s story is actually quite fascinating, a true American Dream type of story. I believe it was a poor Kurdish immigrant who started it and exploded the greek yogurt industry in just a few years

thurman on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Yup, he was a Kurd born in Turkey. He first started making feta cheese in upstate NY in 2002, and then acquired a yogurt plant that Kraft was closing.

Gotta admit, Chobani’s Mango flavor is Da Bomb. Great flavor.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

The culture of corruption.

Drained Brain on August 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

lol, beautiful!

abobo on August 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Bet it’s Dannon in a different, higher-end package, with a corresponding higher-end price. It’s made in White Plains, NY, by the way — just looked at the carton of it that I have in my fridge.

Oh, and it’s very easy to make your own yogurt without a yogurt maker. You just need a couple tablespoons of the unflavored, whole-milk yogurt, a largish pan and some whole milk. I grew up with my mom and aunts making it, following their mom’s and grandmother’s recipe and it turns out every bit as good as the stuff on the shelves.

PatriotGal2257 on August 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Chobani is crap compared to Fage.

This “pilot program” is BS either way.

tyketto on August 1, 2013 at 12:37 PM

How come Feinstein and Boxer and that a$$wipe Garamendi didn’t get Brown Cow cream at the top yogurt, of Antioch , CA, into the mix? The stuff is delicious, kids would eat it like ice cream, and it is less expensive than that greek low or no fat garbage that will end up in the trash can. Oh, Mooochelle would have a cow if that happened, Brown Cow is whole milk yogurt with all the fat.

NOMOBO on August 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The boys fancy themselves hi-tec spys. Approval from the top I presume.

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM

LOL…

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I’m just to the point where I simply hate politicians and government. All of them, all of it. Nothing but cronies and f*cking criminals. Even minor stuff now pisses me off to the point that I hope very horrible things happen to each and every one of them.

Midas on August 1, 2013 at 12:45 PM

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I linked you over to here. Hope it was okay to do that. ; )

Bmore on August 1, 2013 at 12:45 PM

fad. Back in the good ol’ days, nobody worried about what kids ate, because kids were outside running it off playing. Now, we need the nanny state to try to shove icky tasting food down the kids throats. Good luck with that, idiots.

kirkill on August 1, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Any predictions on how many tons of this yogurt are going to join the rest of the mandated healthy foods in the trash at these schools? I’d venture a guess of “most of it”, just like the other crap they mandated that kids refuse to eat. Nothing but a money transfer from taxpayers to cronies who don’t give a damn if the stuff gets eaten or not, with some of that money being kicked-back to the related politicians as campaign donations and perks.

F*cking rotten bastards.

Midas on August 1, 2013 at 12:47 PM

I will say though that Chobani isn’t crazy expensive. Like $1-$1.25 compared to the $.75 yogurts on the shelves.

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Where I live, something that costs 33% to 67% more than the others is comfortably referred to as ‘crazy expensive’. :)

Midas on August 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

OT: Wow! This is troubling..!

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Looks like I picked a bad week to become a pressure cooker salesman…

pain train on August 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Any predictions on how many tons of this yogurt are going to join the rest of the mandated healthy foods in the trash at these schools? … just like the other crap they mandated that kids refuse to eat.

Midas on August 1, 2013 at 12:47 PM

What about apples? Chucky Schucky gotta love him some NY apples.

I’m guessing he’ll be pushing the Chobani Apple Cinnamon.

Win win!

pain train on August 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Work harder, fools.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Where I live, something that costs 33% to 67% more than the others is comfortably referred to as ‘crazy expensive’. :)

Midas on August 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Eh, that’s thinking along normal lines, not “health food” lines. Convince enough people that your “new and improved” food is healthier and trendier than the stuff that came before it, and that’s usually worth twice the cost, minimum. Three times, if you can slap “organic” on the front and sell it in a specialty shop.

As far as yogurts go here, it’s on the high end of normal. They’ll need to tell the old folks it will make them B.M. if they want to get up close to $2 like the fancy types.

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

OT: Wow! This is troubling..!

d1carter on August 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Looks like I picked a bad week to become a pressure cooker salesman…

pain train on August 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Talk about really sloppier than usual journalism — one learns in an update that it was a local police terrorism task force in Long Island, and the photo used was from the Boston bombings. Where I come from, captions accompany photos directly beneath them.

Someone in the comments section even suggested it was a hoax. I guess it’s not, but the article’s obviously been planted for the usual reasons.

PatriotGal2257 on August 1, 2013 at 1:12 PM

“Starting this school year, students across the state will be balancing New York-made Chobani Greek yogurt on their lunch trays,” Schumer said in a statement Friday.

Can’t wait to hear the kids say “Take your yogurt and SHOVE IT! Schumer!”

The liberal idiots tried the same crap up in LA. “Healthy food” for the children.

It ended up in the trash cans because the kids wouldn’t eat it.

GarandFan on August 1, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Gingotts on August 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

This is why I refuse to buy anything even remotely labeled “organic” from my local grocery store. It’s all marketing BS. And I can count on one hand how many times I’ve ever been in a Whole Foods store.

The whole “organic” trend is just another thing that sanctimonious liberals use to bludgeon everyone else over the head with, as well as being yet another way to separate people from their money.

PatriotGal2257 on August 1, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The most irritating part of this is that NO ONE is going to do a damned thing about it. Schumer won’t be investigated. His corporate cronies won’t be outed. Only the very small segment of the population which tunes into websites like this one will ever even hear about it.

Our government is no longer representative of the people. We go to the polls every two years, choosing between one corrupt politician, out to enrich himself and his cronies, and another. Meanwhile, every trick in the book is utilized by armies of marketing people in order to fool us into believing that these are our only choices. We could do with an amendment to limit terms, but who in Washington DC would vote for it, let alone bring it to the floor?

We need to cast each and every one of these people out of Congress. We need a MOVEMENT in this country AGAINST INCUMBENCY. These people have destroyed our economy and our healthcare system. They consider it their job to manage us, human beings, sovereign citizens… like cattle.

Yeah… it’s just yogurt in this thread, and a dead fawn in another. But how many daily insults against freedom and ethics do we need before we realize that instead of a representative government of the people, we’re dealing with a permanent RULING CLASS. This is no different than the monarchy we left behind in 1776, save for that instead of enriching one king, we’re enriching the whole of Washington DC -and- their cronies.

We need to go to the polls next year and whack every damned incumbent running. We need to pass those term limits so that no politician can ever again make a CAREER out of ruling us from on high. We need to dig deep and find our inner Thomas Paine, and use the modern resources of the Information Age for more than just grumbling about the latest insult. We need to CREATE an Anti-Incumbency Movement and bring this nation back to the state of truly REPRESENTATIVE governance.

Murf76 on August 1, 2013 at 1:26 PM

. It’s made in White Plains, NY, by the way — just looked at the carton of it that I have in my fridge.

PatriotGal2257 on August 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

?

I have a carton of Chobani Strawberry Banana yogurt sitting on my desk right now. The label says:

Chobani Inc., 666 County Road, New Berlin, NY 13411

And the label for my Chobani mango yogurt bears the same New Berlin address.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

666 County Road! It’s of the Devil! So is Chuckie!

kirkill on August 1, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Chobani Flips are good, Key Lime with Graham Cracker Crumbles and White Chocolate Chips = Awesome.

Same as Del, mine has the New Berlin address.

I know for a fact that we will never rid ourselves of this corruption between government and industry. Sad.

Never been to a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s and don’t see it in the future either. Don’t really care for “niche” type stores of any kind, probably because I don’t like paying extra just for the name.

Might have to switch from Chobani to Stonyfield Farms, I drive within a few of miles of the plant on my way to work.

D-fusit on August 1, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Can we get some FEC records on how much in donations Chobani & executive gave to DNC & Chuckles?

rbj on August 1, 2013 at 1:59 PM

The stuff is all the health-food rage right now..

Only problem is that it is actually bad for the environment. The production of greek yogurt produces copious amounts of whey acid, which gets into the water ways, lakes, oceans, etc, and kills off fish and other aquatic life.

I guess Chucky S hates the environment.

William Teach on August 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I was just pointing out that Dannon is made in New York, too. That’s all.

PatriotGal2257 on August 1, 2013 at 2:38 PM

I’m not sure why everyone is so bent out of shape at Chobani about this

If I were a stockholder, I would applaud them for “working with” their local congresstrash to expand their market

This is all within the rules

Anyone who has a business and doesn’t play this game is an idiot

And congressmen love to thump their chests that they’re helping local businesses at the state or federal level.

If you have a business and get more sales out of it, you’re ecstatic

Change the system, otherwise learn to play within it

thurman on August 1, 2013 at 3:06 PM

which benefits our New York Greek yogurt producers and dairy farmers to boot.

Come on Erika, at least they’re being honest about things.

a big government that creates and caters to the opportunity to do so is the real root of the problem.

A national government that steps outside its very limited constitutional bounds is the real root of the problem.

GWB on August 1, 2013 at 3:55 PM

My kids are not picky eater but none of them will touch Greek Yogurt. I foresee mountains of uneaten Greek yogurt rotting in the sun.

morbius on August 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

OK, so this is very crony based, but Chobani tastes a lot better than most Greek yogurts and they do have more protein. A 6 oz plain, non-fat Chobani is 100 calories, with 18 g protein and 7 g sugar. You can mix in diet cocoa and it tastes OK but is still low carb. Their 100 cal coffee with dark chocolate chip is great although not as low carb.

If you’re going to try to get kids to eat healthy, you might at least give them something that tastes good. Most greek yogurts are inedible. I recommend Chobani to my patients all the time.

If people stop buying Chobani, there will be more for me. Last year there was a shortage and the local grocery was out of vanilla and plain for weeks. If they will be feeding it to all the schoolkids in New York, I better stock up.

talkingpoints on August 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I foresee mountains of uneaten Greek yogurt rotting in the sun.

morbius on August 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Schmucky Schumer and his corporate cronies don’t care if the food is wasted. They get paid either way.

Murf76 on August 1, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Chuck Schumer is the Ariel Castro of politics. Better check Chobani’s Board Of Directors, major stockholders or see if it is listed among Schumer’s campaign contributors.

MaiDee on August 1, 2013 at 11:37 PM