Community Action Center provides assistance, food and more

Provides vouchers for people who need food, assistance with energy and housing



Community Action Center is stocked with food as of Wednesday

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

The Whitman County Community Action Center has everything you need, from energy and weather assistance to fresh affordable food. 

The CAC is community driven and has been around for over 30 years, specializing in many different departments, said Carrie Chase, CAC community food manager. 

“I like to think of us as a one-stop shop because we have so many different departments under one roof. We have rental assistance, energy assistance, emergency housing, Section Eight, weatherization, and then the food bank, which is also a big umbrella on itself,” Chase said. 

The food bank has recently transitioned back to in-store shopping as the pandemic has slowed. To help with efficiency and wait times, the action center created a scheduling system, Chase said. 

The CAC website has an option to schedule appointments in 15-minute increments, she said. If someone does not have access to the internet, it is encouraged that they call the center.

Four people within 15 minutes are allowed in the food bank at one time and users are able to come up to three times a month, Chase said. The food bank also assists in signing up for EBT cards. 

“We also have hydroponics in-house so it can grow fresh produce year-round for the food bank, as well as a mobile farm stand,” she said. 

The food bank has a culinary kitchen that is rented out to people wanting to start a business, teach a class or need some extra space for extra produce, Chase said. They also provide nutrition classes.

“We also have a mobile farm stand which we got a USDA grant and SNAP-Ed funding for and we go out to rural towns and we have a ‘Pay What You Can’ method and so people that can’t afford it, we just encourage them to please take as much as they want,” Chase said. 

Frequent volunteer Susan Belancin moved to Pullman a few years ago as a way to settle down and enjoy her retirement, when she was scrolling through Facebook and saw the CAC in need of volunteers, she said.

“That instantly hit a nerve and I was upset that we couldn’t be feeding people, so immediately I just picked up the phone, no excuses and called Carrie and she invited me to come down and volunteer the next day,” Belancin said. “I loved it and it got me off the couch and out in the community and I’ve been going back ever since. I think I was destined to be a food bank volunteer.”

There are three main areas where volunteers are really stationed and provide help, Belancin said. One part is helping get in the produce and handling the food and another part is running the carts, or helping customers load their groceries into their cars. 

“One is manning the dry good areas and just mostly answering questions because that really is a self-serve area and you know, things are pretty clearly marked,” Belancin said. “Our refrigerators are a little wonky, so rather than having everybody open the cooler and look for what dessert they want, we also provide assistance there and then.”

Due to the lack of warehouse space, the food bank does not take clothing, furniture items or toys, Chase said. The food bank currently runs four days a week, Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and then Wednesday and Friday from 1 – 4 p.m. 

“Knowing that we have this service here with good volunteers and people who are willing to donate, it’s comforting to know and really fulfilling when you meet the families that are really so grateful to have this,” Belancin said. “I’m just there helping them put their groceries in but you do feel like you’re a part of it and if it makes their day and it makes mine as a result.”