(April 13, 9 a.m.) Fresh-cut apples are arriving at schools through a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program.

Deliveries of the initial purchase by the Agricultural Marketing Service began March 27 and are expected to continue through June 30, the USDA said in a purchase report.

The purchases include more than one million pounds of sliced apples, with an estimated delivered purchase price of more than $4.1 million.

“I have received no negative feedback at all,” said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va. “This is a pilot program, so everybody wants to make it work.”

Seetin said USDA officials have been reaching out to the industry for the program.

“This is an example of innovation that certainly all of us appreciate,” he said.

USDA officials have previously said the agency also will consider purchases of other produce through the program.

Fresh-cut apple suppliers identified in the USDA purchase report are:

  • Farmington Fresh Sales LLC, Stockton, Calif., for 2,640 cases to Turlock, Calif., at $17.48 per case; and 17,472 cases to Cordelia, Calif., and Pico Rivera, Calif., at $33.97 to $34.88 per case;

  • Fresh Innovations of California, Oxnard, Calif., for 47,250 cases to Commerce, Calif., and Los Angeles at $18.78 per case;

  • Global Purveyors LLC, Mountain View, Calif., for 1,320 cases to West Sacramento, Calif., at $22.33 per case;

  • Peterson Farms Inc., Shelby, Mich., for 128,040 cases to schools in New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Michigan, at $16.75 to $17.25 per case; and 9,828 to Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa., at $33.50 per case; and

  • The HMC Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif., for 2,496 cases to Montebello, Calif., and Ontario, Calif., at an average price of $12.80.