The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases turkeys and turkey products, along with other foods, for government feeding programs, such as school lunch, child care centers, senior citizens and other participants in food assistance programs of USDA's Food and Consumer Service (FCS).
Whole body turkeys can be time consuming to prepare or require skills unavailable from kitchen employees who work in these programs. Processing programs are available to convert them into more convenient and usable turkey products.
The combination of government programs in conjunction with private industry processing offers many advantages:
Here's how the program works:
1. Each state has an agency responsible for ordering and distributing USDA-AMS commodity turkey and turkey products.
2. Contracts for processing are between the state distribution agency and commercial turkey processors. In some states, the contract is between recipient agency and the processor, but it must be approved by the distribution agency.
3. AMS supervises the processing of all donated poultry regardless of the volume or the dollar value of the processing contract.
4. The recipient agency selects the most appropriate assortment of turkey products from the "packages" offered by the processor. The packages usually can be modified to meet specific recipient needs, on a regional basis.
5. The contract specifies exactly how the whole body turkey is to be processed, packed and delivered.
6. The processor submits performance reports to the state distribution agency.
For additional information about processing commodity turkeys and turkey products, contact your state commodity director or one of the following:
3101 Park Center Drive, Room 504
Alexandria, VA 22302
Phone: (703) 305-2680
Private, for-profit firms also can consider using this system of processing whole body turkeys. Depending on the nature of their foodservice customers, such firms may be able to participate in the government-supported conversion program.
Other commonly included items are: