The Obama administration says it will add Greek yogurt to school lunch menus as a healthy food option loaded with protein.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it was seeking to buy Greek yogurt for schools participating in a federally subsidized school lunch program, as a way to improve the nutritional value of school lunch faire.

But given the short shelf life of Greek yogurt, the administration will introduce the new item first in Arizona, Idaho, New York, and Tennessee, to test distribution systems. The states "represent different regions of the country with varying proximity to yogurt manufacturers and will help test distribution through different warehousing models," a spokesman for the department told reporters.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a democrat from New York, lauded the decision that he has advocated since last June. "Schools in New York, and the other three states participating in the pilot, will soon see that Greek yogurt is an affordable and nutritious high-protein option for their menus," he said. The decision is "a boon for New York yogurt and dairy industries, and it's beneficial for the health of our kids."

Although not one of the biggest players on the K Street lobbying scene in Washington, D.C., the New York-based Chobani producer of Greek yogurt has paid $80,000 to Cornerstone Government Affairs, a lobbying group, to petition Congress on the issue, The Hill reported. The lobbying campaign began last year after Schumer first approached the administration.

Chobani owns the largest yogurt manufacturing plant in the world, located in Twin Falls, Idaho. "By offering this nutritious and tasty option to children in schools, it will help fuel their growing minds and bodies and support the development of healthy, balanced eating habits," a company spokesman told reporters.

The Greek yogurt will be distributed to schools in the four states that participate in the National School Lunch Program, once the department finds a distributor, which may or may not be Chobani. The federal program helps to feed more than 31 million schoolchildren in America everyday, according to 2011 statistics.

The administration will evaluate the yogurt plan in December, deciding whether to distribute the product to all states participating in the program.

High in protein, the yogurt is often made from enriched milk with reduced water content, and often with no added fats. The industry is growing in Western countries and has reached $4.1 billion in annual business.