WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase up to $30 million worth of dark meat chicken items for federal food nutrition assistance programs, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced.

"The purchase announced [Sept. 7] will assist food banks and other federal food nutrition assistance programs offer recipients a wide variety of healthy products" Vilsack said.

U.S.D.A.'s Agricultural Marketing Service (A.M.S.) purchases a variety of high-quality food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Government food experts work to ensure that all purchased food is healthful and nutritious. Food items are required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified grade requirements and be U.S.D.A.-certified to ensure quality. A.M.S. purchases only products of 100% domestic origin.

Depending on developing market conditions, the total amount purchased may be less than $30 million.