This article first appeared in the July 2023 issue of the Pullman Community Update, edited by Carol Cooper.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee visited Community Action Center with his granddaughter Zoe May 25 as part of his trip to the Palouse to learn about community initiatives and needs.

Governor Inslee and attendees in the Community Action Center lobby.

Inslee talked with Community Action Center staff, board members, and partners about local projects that prevent hunger and homelessness. About 25 people attended the meeting, a number that included staff, board, funding partners, WSU, City Councilmembers, and representatives from Malden.

“We focused on the big work we’ve done in the last three years in the pandemic getting rental assistance, energy assistance, and utility assistance out the door. We showed him some innovative stuff like hydroponics and the food bank,” said Jeff Guyett, Executive Director of Community Action Center. “We wanted to have him see where the rubber meets the road.”

Community Food Manager Carrie Chase gives Governor Inslee a tour of the food bank.

The group also discussed projects in the pipeline to address affordable housing for the Palouse: (1) a four-unit housing project for people with developmental disabilities; (2) 6-10 homes for Malden fire recovery together the town of Malden and Habitat for Humanity on the Palouse; and (3) new headquarters for CAC with offices for the food bank, and day use warming/cooling facilities and showers for people experiencing homelessness.

A highlight of the visit was the opportunity for Inslee to meet a food bank customer who was also a former volunteer at the Rosalia food pantry, which has since closed its doors.

“She was thrilled he was there, and he was, too, to meet a resident we were serving out of the food bank,” Guyett said. “Folks come not just from Pullman, but from all over the county.”

Inslee’s 11-year-old granddaughter Zoe took part in conversations about affordable housing options, and toured Community Action Center’s food bank and hydroponics program.

“Zoe was really intrigued by the hydroponics, especially when we lifted the foam to see the roots of the plants growing in the water,” Guyett said.

Seated to the right of Malden Mayor Dan Harwood, Governor Inslee listens to Julia Havens, Department of Commerce, talk about Malden and Pine City fire recovery.