Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced USDA's plan to purchase up to 6.6 million pounds of walnuts. The walnuts will be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

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

Since Oct. 1, 2003, USDA already has purchased 6.67 million pounds of walnuts. The recently announced purchase could nearly double the total purchased for the year, making the projected total year-end purchase of walnuts the largest USDA has made in at least five years. During fiscal year 2003, USDA purchased 6.59 million pounds of walnuts.

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.

More information about USDA programs is available at http://www.usda.gov.