The USDA's commodity foods program

Friday, December 11, 2009; A07

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-- In 1981, the USDA offered schools 54 foods. Today, more than 180 are offered.

More fruits and vegetables

-- In March, the USDA bought 3.3 million pounds of pre-sliced apples for a pilot effort in five states. The program was so popular that this month, it will make 3.5 million more pounds available to schools in 10 states.

Less salt

-- For the 2010 school year, the USDA established a new sodium limit for all canned vegetables of 140 milligrams per serving, down from 180 to 550 milligrams. USDA canned green beans have 64 percent less sodium than commercial products.

Less fat

-- Last year, to replace french fries, the USDA manufactured fat-free potato wedges with 25 percent fewer calories and 92 percent less sodium than in a comparable commercial brand. This year, it provided 3.9 million pounds to schools.

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