More than $68,000 has been donated to the Pullman Serves It Forward campaign since it launched in April 2020, providing thousands of meals to those in need while helping support local restaurateurs at the same time.
Despite the tremendous support, the need persists as individuals and families deal with the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jeff Guyett, executive director of the Community Action Center.
“Restaurants continue to struggle greatly as do those grappling with putting enough food on the table, so this program is a way to help both groups by giving businesses a lifeline and families an opportunity to pick up a meal when they need it,” Guyett said.
The program is the result of a collaboration between CAC, Jamie Callison, director of WSU’s Carson College of Business’ Marriott Foundation Hospitality Culinary Innovation Center and Jeanne Weiler, community engagement coordinator for the university’s Pullman campus. Callison and Weiler each had ambitions to help the Pullman community as the impacts of the pandemic were becoming evident on families and businesses and brought their plan for a gift card program to Guyett and CAC.
“The overwhelming support we’ve received from the community has been absolutely amazing,” Callison said. “That ongoing support remains important as the global pandemic continues creating serious challenges for restaurant owners, their employees and people facing food insecurity.”
Within two months of launching the program, CAC received almost $30,000 in donations, including the largest single day of fundraising for a CAC-associated program in its history.
More than a dozen local restaurants have participated in the program, with most of them donating additional meals beyond what CAC was purchasing. To date, local restaurants have donated around 240 meals out of their own pockets toward Pullman Serves It Forward.
Donations to Pullman Serves It Forward are used to purchase $25 gift cards to local restaurants. From there, cards are distributed in food boxes distributed by CAC and other local programs. Several restaurant owners have reported to Weiler and Callison that the program has been the difference between shuttering and keeping the lights on month-to-month.
“The need is still there, with restaurants still working to tie loose ends together,” Weiler said.
While donations have ebbed and flowed in the past 10 months, Pullman Serves It Forward will continue to collect donations and distribute gift cards to those in need as long as the community continues to support it.
To learn more about Pullman Serves It Forward, including how to support the effort, visit the Community Action Center’s website.
Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications, 509-595-1708, firstname.lastname@example.org