Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced that USDA will purchase up to 12 million pounds of frozen freestone peaches for donation to needy families and other domestic food assistance programs.

“This purchase will help provide nutritious food for families in need,” Veneman said. “Because the supply of freestone peaches is plentiful, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to purchase and share this product with domestic food distribution agencies.”

To date, the total purchase of canned and frozen peaches in this fiscal year is 118 million pounds. In 2002, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service purchased 101 million pounds of peach products. AMS purchased 97 million pounds in fiscal year 2001.

USDA 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 and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.