"This purchase will provide recipients of our federal food programs with good, nutritious products," said Veneman.

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. USDA also makes emergency purchases of commodities for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Last year USDA purchased 2.1 million pounds of fresh pears. In fiscal year 2002, USDA purchased 3.1 million pounds; and in 2001, 5.5 million pounds.

More information on USDA programs is available at www.usda.gov.

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