Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced USDA's plan to purchase up to 78 million pounds of apples and apple products to be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

“This purchase will provide our federal food program recipients with tasty and nutritious products,” said Johanns.

Since the beginning of the current fiscal year which began Oct. 1, 2004, USDA has purchased 52.4 million pounds of apples and apple products, including fresh apples, canned and frozen apple slices, apple juice and applesauce. USDA purchased 64.2 million pounds of apples and apple products in FY 2004 and 83.8 million pounds in FY 2003.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service purchases a variety of high quality food products each year for distribution by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service for 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.