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Center for Civic Engagement

Palouse Fresh Food Project

The Palouse Fresh Food Project builds on the service learning foundation of the Center for Civic Engagement, in an effort to connect students and campus resources to organizations that are fighting food insecurity on the Palouse.


The Palouse Fresh Food Project increases the availability of fresh food for those community members who are food insecure, through service learning opportunities and community collaboration.

  • Why is this Project in Pullman?

    Many people are unaware that Whitman County, Washington is considered to be the most impoverished county in all of Washington. The most recent census data states that 32.6% of Whitman County residents live below the federal poverty level. In contrast, the Washington State poverty level is currently at 13.4%, while the national average is at about 15%*. Learn more about poverty in Whitman County here.

    When one looks deeper into the issue of poverty in Whitman County, it is impossible to ignore the issue of food security. According to the most recent publication from the organization Feeding America, Whitman County is the most food insecure county in the state of Washington. Simply put, this means that 19.6% of residents, or about 9,000 people, don’t know where their next meal is coming from**. To get a better understanding of how food insecurity looks across the country, explore the Map the Meal Gap tool.

    Whitman County currently has 15 food pantries serving over 20 different communities.

    If you or your student group would like to serve at a local food pantry, host a food and supplies drive, or host a philanthropy event that serves any of the area food pantries, please contact the WSU Center for Civic Engagement. Credited internships are also available at local organizations that are taking on issues of food security.

    * From "Whitman County QuickFacts" United State Census Bureau

    ** From "Map the Meal Gap" Feeding America

  • Current Programs

    The Palouse Fresh Food Project supports and develops a variety of projects throughout the region. A list of current projects can be found below.

    • Food Recovery Projects with Backyard Harvest and the Community Action Center
    • Food Recovery with WSU Football (pictured below)
    • Annual Lentil Chili Food Recovery Project
    • Annual Palouse Cares Food Drive
    • Community Food Pantry Projects
    • All Greek Food Drive
    • Pullman Farmers Market Trip
    Students with food recovered with WSU Football

  • Campus Compact Campus-Community Partnership Award

    In January 2017, the Palouse Fresh Food Project was honored with the first annual Engaged Campus-Community Partnership Award by the Western Regional Campus Compact. This award recognizes one outstanding campus-community partnership that produces measurable impact in the community through collaboration and student engagement. 

    Over the past two years, the PFFP has collaborated with 16 community organizations to develop service learning opportunities for over 2,000 students. Through these opportunities, WSU students have made a positive impact in the community through a multitude of initiatives such as implementing food drives that focus on improving the quality of the food donated and working directly with community members to design and implement community gardens and edible landscapes. The PFFP has also been instrumental in the development of food recovery initiatives, the Whitman County Fresh Food Donation Guide, the Whitman County Seed Library, cooking demonstrations with Community Action Center, and multiple events during Poverty Awareness Week. Ryan Lazo, the original PFFP AmeriCorps VISTA and current WSU Center for Civic Engagement Community Partnerships Coordinator, is excited about the project’s expansion over the past two years. “One of the strengths of the PFFP has been the ability to partner with so many great organizations across the Palouse,” he explained. “These strong partnerships ensure programs are not only meeting community identified needs, but doing it in a sustainable way.”

    Read the official award announcement at

  • Resources