Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced plans to purchase up to 6.9 million pounds of canned and frozen asparagus for donation to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

“This purchase will provide recipients of our federal food programs with a nutritious product,” said Veneman.

This is the fourth consecutive year that USDA has purchased canned and frozen asparagus. USDA purchased a total of 5.6 million pounds in fiscal year 2003, 6.1 million pounds in 2002 and 1.75 million pounds in 2001.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service purchases a variety of high quality food products every year for distribution by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.