With spring fast approaching, I find myself looking forward to shopping for fresh fruits and veggies to enjoy in the nice weather. I'm very fortunate to have access to affordable and fresh produce not only in grocery stores, but also at farmer's markets. I'm reminded on a daily basis, however, that many families, such as Katie's, struggle with hunger and are often forced to purchase low-cost, high-filler foods in order to stretch their grocery budgets. That is why Feeding America is working to increase access to fresh foods and nourish communities. With more than 200 member food banks and 61,000 agencies, we can work to get the right kinds of food to those in need. One way we are working to provide more fresh foods to our clients is through the National Produce Program. This program works to increase the food bank network's capacity to handle non-perishable foods.
Over the last several years, Feeding America has nearly doubled the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables secured and distributed throughout the network. During this time, households across the country have received more than 2.2 billion pounds of wholesome fruits and vegetables. Our focus on produce has presented tremendous opportunities and many challenges for our network, which was built on a system of distribution for non-perishable foods. As a result, our network is dedicated to not only sourcing more fresh fruits and vegetables but also to building the capacity to transport, store and deliver those foods in a way that is acceptable and drives demand among our clients. We hope that the stronger capacity will help our network reach its goal of securing at least 1 billion pounds of fresh produce per year by 2015.
The Feeding America network is strengthening partnerships, advocating for policies and building systems that drive healthier foods through our own food bank system to improve healthy food access for the millions of low income and food-insecure clients we serve each year. To learn more about our clients' stories and to see how you can help, check out the Donate Your Voice For Hunger site.