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The Ins and Outs of Food Distribution

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

The way that food distribution happens throughout US and within their local communities depends on a few key factors. Some of these factors include asking questions like: do you live in an urban city or a rural area?


What resources are available for local farmers to play a primary role in feeding their community (if any), or is the space in which you live such a large city that the only produce anyone has access to needs to be shipped in from other neighboring states?


Understanding food distribution and how it directly (or indirectly) impacts your community can also say a lot about the local economy and how sustainable your city or town really is for the long haul.

So what is food distribution?

Food distribution generally includes a range of organizations, companies, and programs that collect and store food from producers and distribute it to retailers, food stores, restaurants and cafeterias (as well as to government programs like the food distribution

program that Four Roots Farms runs).


Food service distribution is a subset of the larger food distribution network. Food service distribution facilitates the delivery food from farmers, processors, and manufacturers to food service providers such as food managers, chefs, food and drink managers, grocery stores, restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals, cafeterias, restaurants, and cafeterias. Food distributors often purchase direct from the manufacturer and sell directly to the foodservice operator.



Why does food distribution matter?

Food distribution include the responsibility of transporting and storing food from the producers to the food service operators. Some food distribution experts are in specific food products, such as seafood and fruits and vegetables. One food distribution

provider may be associated with a particular food manufacturer.


Local farmers are key players in food distribution to their local communities - providing fresh produce boxes to local sources like Four Roots Farms and the like. Independent food distributors make it simple for producers and manufacturers to establish a supply chain. They simply need to hire a distributor who caters to their needs.


Some food distribution sources store food in warehouses for short periods, while others use refrigerated trucks to transport the goods to food service providers. The type of food distributed will determine the transport method and timeframe. Of course, fresh produce stays fresher, longer, when it doesn't have to travel long distances and can stay within the local community that it was grown in.


Food distribution sources may also market and sell products that they distribute. Large scale distributors are often preferred by food service operators over producers because they provide the food to restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service providers.


Food distribution sources may purchase direct from food producers and local farmers. In this case, the food distributor fulfills orders and delivers the produce boxes locally, which as we stated before, means that the local produce is of better quality and stays fresher, longer. Selling direct to local resources allows local farmers and producers to concentrate on their strengths and not on acquiring and maintaining customers.

Four Roots Farms would be considered a resource for local farmers to directly sell their fresh produce boxes to us in contribution to our services of aggregated food boxes - composed of locally and regionally sourced produce, that is then distributed to and through Eastern WA hunger relief partners.



We currently distribute over 1790 fresh produce boxes a month - so for more information on how you can benefit from our produce boxes, how you can volunteer your time to help, or donate toward our efforts, click here.


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