The Yawkey Distribution Center quadrupled the capacity of the Greater Boston Food Bank, allowing it to serve more hungry families than ever before.

One out of every 11 Massachusetts residents seeks food from a shelter or pantry: so many, in fact, the Greater Boston Food Bank found its facilities unable to meet this overwhelming need. It even had to turn away donations. That’s why it sought to build a new, high-efficiency distribution center in South Boston.

At 117,000 square feet, the new building doubles the area of the old facility. And with twice the ceiling height and four times the shelving, the food bank can process four times as much food as before — up to 50,000,000 pounds each year — with the help of 16,000 annual volunteers. Two years after the move, food donations had already increased 30%.

To handle such enormous volume, the building incorporates a computerized tracking system that directs shipments to their destinations. Further efficiency comes from a massive drive-in refrigerator, so perishable items can be loaded and unloaded without leaving a climate-controlled environment.

The facility earned LEED Silver certification, thanks to natural lighting, photovoltaic panels, and a refrigerator that uses already-cold outdoor air during the winter months. With features like these to reduce energy costs, the Greater Boston Food Bank can devote more of its resources to what it does best: feeding those in need.

Video: Feeding the Hungry
“ We were limited in our previous facility that we could only handle so much. By having twice the square footage and four times the cubic footage, now we’re able to say ‘yes.’ ”

Catherine D’Amato President and CEO, Greater Boston Food Bank


John Cary, The Power of Pro Bono (Metropolis Books, 2010)

Modern Materials Handling, “Sustainability: The Greater Boston Food Bank receives LEED silver certification,” June 8, 2011
The Architect’s Newspaper, “Review: The Good Fight,” March 3, 2011
Interior Design, “Positivity Issue: Project,” March 2011
Change Observer, “Mensch at Work,” January 26, 2011
Metropolis, “Pro Bono,” November 2010