Northwest Harvest Announces New 200,000 SF Distribution Facility To Open In Yakima

Northwest Harvest today announced a major investment to build a new distribution center and free grocery store in the agricultural heart of Washington, the Yakima Valley.

Northwest Harvest purchased a 10.5-acre parcel, formerly a drive-in movie theatre in Yakima. The site will become home to a new 200,000 sq. ft. food distribution center and a 4,000 sq. ft. community market/free grocery store, expected to finish construction by late 2022.

According to Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds, “This project will significantly expand equitable access to food across Washington state; create upwards of 40 new, permanent, living wage jobs; and center our operations where many of Washington’s key agricultural producers are located.”

Derek Sandison, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, joined Reynolds for the announcement and commented, “Northwest Harvest has long been a leader in providing equitable access to food for all Washingtonians. We at the Washington State Department of Agriculture applaud Northwest Harvest’s new investment in helping to ensure a food secure future for Yakima and central Washington.”

The new facility will become the main hub for the distribution of fresh, culturally-relevant, nutritious food to all 39 counties in Washington, free of charge, and enable Northwest Harvest and its network of food bank, meal program, and school-based partners to achieve our vision of ending hunger.

Esther Magasis, Director of Human Services for Yakima County expressed her support for the project, “I am so excited for Northwest Harvest to be increasing their investments in Yakima. Northwest Harvest have been longtime proponents of anti-poverty efforts and increased food equity, and in Washington that must include expanding resources to Central Washington – especially our rural and semi-rural communities.”

Carmen Mendez, Sr. Manager of Hunger Response and Distribution, Yakima Distribution Center, commented, “For 50 years, Northwest Harvest has built partnerships in communities across the state to expand access to nutritious, culturally-relevant food where it’s needed most. We are distributing more food and reaching more people than we ever have, but hunger and food insecurity are still growing.

“This new center will allow us to deliver a higher volume of food more quickly to help more people get the food they need. It will increase our capacity for delivering and storing nutritious foods—with a focus on fruits and vegetables—that can help people and families prepare balanced, culturally-relevant, and delicious meals with dignity. The Yakima Valley is the epicenter of fresh food production in our state and this new campus will create quality jobs, support local farmers and growers, and engage community members and partners to design a true community space. This facility will help us close the gap between the people who grow our food and the communities we serve.”

Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds added, “When it comes to wealth, food, and possibility—Washington state’s bounty is abundant. Our state is home to the farmlands, orchards, growers, and workers who help feed so much of the country and world. And yet today, 1 in 4 families are facing difficulty making ends meet. Hunger is not just a symptom of poverty, it’s an unacceptable symptom of inequity. The COVID-19 pandemic made that reality even more prevalent and difficult to overcome. As thousands across our state lost jobs, savings, and stability—food insecurity became the reality for more people for the first time, while those already facing it were pushed deeper into poverty.

“At Northwest Harvest, we refuse to accept hunger as inevitable for our neighbors and community. This new Yakima campus will be a significant force in the fight for food security for all Washingtonians and a major investment in strengthening local farms, shortening the distance between producers and the communities who need food.”

Yakima County Development Association has enjoyed a long standing relationship with Northwest Harvest and was proud to assist with the project. “Northwest Harvest first reached out to YCDA in early fall of 2019,” said James Gibbs, Chief of Staff with Northwest Harvest. “YCDA helped us evaluate potential sites and connected us with key resources. We are excited to expand our current operations in the Yakima Valley where we have enjoyed partnerships with farmers, growers and many social justice organizations in Central Washington for more than 30 years. Northwest Harvest’s new Distribution Center here in Yakima is being built to benefit all those in need across Washington State. Thank you to YCDA for their initial efforts on our behalf and we look forward to continuing our work with them.”

For more information about Northwest Harvest, or the new regional distribution center being built in Yakima, please call Kristin Hyde, 206.491.0773, kristinh@northwestharvest.org.