Dannon and USDA Team Up to Provide Students with Yogurt

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently working on a proposal that would use current milk resources for school to provide students with fresh yogurt. The proposal has the support of Dannon, the largest yogurt maker in the world.

Currently, the USDA runs a commodity foods program under which the federal government uses its ability to buy in vast bulk quantities in order to help schools buy commodities like fruits, vegetables, and meats at reduced prices. This is in accordance with several federal school meal programs, like the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. With certain foods, the school districts send their commodities to manufacturers for processing. This would be the case with milk commodities should the proposal be approved.  

For the 2016-2017 school year, the USDA is considering including milk on its list of commodities available to school districts around the country. If the proposal is finalized, schools will be able to direct their share of milk to the making of Dannon yogurt. Under the program, Dannon would provide its products at a discount of up to 40 percent.

The USDA sees a number of potential benefits to this plan. The initiative would allow students to enjoy the nutritional benefits of dairy without the waste that accompanies regular milk. Unfortunately, a lot of kids throw regular milk away when offered to them in cartons. But they’ll gladly consume it if presented in a more attractive form, be it chocolate milk or yogurt.

Yogurt is a USDA-approved meat alternative. It’s a good source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Through its use in parfaits and smoothies, it serves as a great complement to fruits and grains. Presently, some 60 million pounds of yogurt are served in schools every year.

Basically, the system will work like a credit system. Districts would get access to specific milk “credits” according to their needs. They can either use this commodity allowance to purchase milk from their distributors, or they can dedicate it to yogurt-making, in which case they would buy the yogurt at a discount.

Dannon is naturally enthusiastic about the proposal, as it would mean more business for their company. Right now, Dannon leads the market in the United States and is looking for opportunities to continue expanding. Dannon, headquartered in New York, runs plants in Ohio, Utah, Texas, and Oregon. It already sells its products extensively to schools nationwide, but this proposal would permit a considerable expansion of its sales.

Under the program, schools would be able to purchase any of Dannon’s current yogurt products, such as traditional and Greek yogurt. Students would have a wide array of choices before them subject to the discretion of school administrators.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There are details that remain to be ironed out, but the milk commodity proposal has the potential to go a long way in helping students obtain healthy food choices in a way that is financially bearable for schools.

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4 Public Interest Groups That Want To Make College Affordable For You

It’s a big topic these days – the rising cost of tuition, increasing mountains of student debt for graduates, and what students can do to make college more affordable. It’s often framed as battle that, despite the millions of students fighting the same thing, has to be undertaken alone. That’s not true, though. There are a number of groups out there fighting to make college affordable for all students. Here are a few of the heavy hitters:

Complete College America

CCA is a little different than some of the other groups looking to just decrease tuition or lobby for loan forgiveness. Their mission is focused around increasing the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees, as well as closing the attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Rather than just working to bring the university experience within reach, they’re working on increasing the number of genuinely useful degrees and certificates. They focus on the state level, and advocated what they call “game changers” including performance funding, corequisite remediation, structured schedules, guided pathways to success, and incentives for enrolling full time.

The reforms CCA lobbies for don’t just make college cheaper, they help to encourage students to learn and pursue career skills that will carry them forward, making them more financially viable after graduation, as well, and helping to mitigate the long term impacts of debt.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

This group works at the national level to conduct research and disseminate information that makes higher education more collectively accessible. They conduct independent research and analyses of policy issues at state and national levels regarding opportunity and achievement in higher education.

They don’t just sit on that information, though. The group works to proactively communicate performance results and key findings to the public, civic and higher education leaders, and to officials in place to improve public policy regarding higher education.

The National Center works to assist individuals and groups in places to make significant change regarding higher education policy by providing them with independent, non-partisan information. They let the facts speak for themselves, which is often a powerful tool.

Student Loan Justice

Student Loan Justice is a grassroots citizen organization out to return consumer protection to student loans. The inspiration behind the Student Borrower Bill of Rights, their media outreach specifically focuses on private lenders such as Sallie Mae, claiming that they’ve enriched themselves at the expense of students and taxpayers and highlighting the problems caused by defaulting on a loan – how hardship after trying to do something to better one’s self actually put them in a much worse situation.

The organization allows students’ own experience to speak, and often the stories they tell are powerful and compelling means of encouraging change.

The Institute For College Access and Success

The Institute For College Access and Success is at the helm of the Project on Student Debt, which works to provide the latest news and information on student debt and financial aid policy, as well as to empower borrowers with stories, commentary, analysis, and forums to gain information and advice regarding student debt.

The Project bridges the gap between advocating for policy change and assisting students in managing the loans they already have by directing them to resources already in place. It’s a powerful tool for help for many students already burdened with debt, and it’s working to make sure future students don’t have to face that same challenge.


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