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Washington's Hunger-Relief System: Addressing Transportation and
Storage Capacity Gaps

Last December, Rotary First Harvest completed and shared a report about transportation and storage capacity bottlenecks that contribute to gaps in the hunger-relief system. This report identifies six barriers that prevent the fluid distribution of hunger-relief food across the state. The full report (no longer available) also recommends possible solutions to the six identified gaps. 

The goals of the gaps and recommendations in this report are threefold:

  • Build upon previous reports by pinpointing transportation and storage capacity gaps that disrupt the distribution of food.
  • Create a common understanding within the hunger-relief system of gaps and expand on current or develop new solutions that address barriers.
  • Allow this report to act as a springboard to create pilot models that address transportation and storage capacity bottlenecks.

The six gaps (not ordered in importance) are:

  1. Need to increase cooperative transportation: Not enough transportation collaboration occurs between county-level distribution centers and food banks and among local networks of food banks. Although transportation partnerships do exist in some parts of the state, there are more opportunities to improve cooperation, like expanding or creating shared trucking coalitions.
  2. Need for donated and reduced-rate trucking: Hunger-relief distribution centers and food banks all want to reduce transportation costs. Increasing donated and reduced rate trucking regionally and locally could impact both the capacity and efficiency of food delivery either for free or a discounted price.
  3. Need to improve storage capacity: Storage capacity is contingent on the warehouse space of distribution centers and food banks.  Chiefly, adequate cold storage is one of the biggest storage capacity barriers for food banks and some distribution centers.
  4. Need to continue to improve dialogue: Food banks and distribution centers can improve their existing models of communication, especially on county and local levels. Recently, the hunger-relief system has seen improvement in communication, but more can still be done.
  5. Need for more community-based partnerships: A number of businesses and organizations exist that may have resources to share at a reduced-rate or donate to the hunger-relief system. However, many hunger-relief organizations fail to reach out to the business community and many businesses remain unaware of the hunger-relief system’s needs.
  6. Need to expand clusters of partnership: The statewide hunger-relief system can improve integration of nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Because of a lack of overall collaboration, hunger-relief organizations miss out on opportunities to partner, through a coordinated approach, with commercial organizations like food, trucking and cold storage companies.


Next Steps

Rotary First Harvest wrote and shared this gap analysis as an attempt to identify and create a common framework to discuss future storage capacity and transportation improvements across the hunger-relief network. Pilot models have already started to evolve out of the framework of this report.  For instance, Rotary First Harvest is currently partnering with a handful of hunger-relief distribution centers and food bank, businesses, and other organizations statewide to improve transportation and storage capacity efficiencies.

Target Audience

Hunger-relief organizations


Washington State

For More Information:
  • Rotary First Harvest
    Phone: 206-236-0408