OPINION: Give Pullman a Trader Joe’s so we can eat better

Moscow seems to get all of the cool stuff, we need a Trader Joe’s in Pullman


The conversation surrounding low-quality produce and limited accessibility to good groceries is an ongoing concern for students and the Pullman community. The issue of access to good, healthy food at an affordable price point is not a new topic. Our dining halls and on-campus markets strive to provide the best options possible- though they struggle to find adequate produce and making options available to all students.

The Health in Whitman County club is a student organization facilitated through the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication’s Media Strategies and Techniques for PR course. The club focuses on bringing attention and support to local resources.

“The all-campus food drive, which was recently switched from the all-Greek food drive, is the same thing, we are just trying to make it more inclusive. Branching out so we can get more people involved and give students the ability to participate in on-campus community work,” said Cassandra Lynch, president of WSU’s Health in Whitman County club.

This change in the community comes at a pivotal time, with more people becoming aware of the pitfalls of college food drives and actively attempting to do better for the entire Pullman community. By increasing the quality of our donations, we have the ability to turn these pantries into something accessible that we all want to be involved in on varying levels. There are even some on-campus and open for student use, including Rosario’s Place in the Women*s Center, Cougs Feeding Cougs and the Little Free Pantry on Main.

Luckily, our dining facilities prioritize serving the community and find their own ways to help Pullman locals struggling with food insecurity, through a food recovery program focused in the dining halls which picks out food that is safe to be redistributed at the end of the day.

“In 2017 we started our food recovery program partnered with the Whitman County Community Action Center and the Center for Civic Engagement, to recover foods that we deem that we could not reuse in our system, but they can be reprocessed or reused so we can use it in another way to help individuals in need of food,” said Gary Coyle, director of retail and catering for WSU Dining Services.

If someone wanted to look on Yelp for the best-reviewed grocery stores in the area, they would quickly find themselves looking for a ride to Moscow. This is because the options in Pullman are limited to Walmart, Dissmore’s and Safeway. Regardless of the population diversity, these stores offer limited options due to their effective price separation and broad intentions. The limited resources within the actual town of Pullman causes large numbers of students and residents to travel to Moscow for their shopping needs.

Without even realizing it the city of Pullman is effectively losing economic activity to Moscow by not having a more adequate selection for its residents. This goes beyond just the lives of students and affects the locals as well — who are also forced to travel for some extent of their shopping needs. The idea that Pullman could not support another grocery store is a little bewildering as we see how many stores are able to sustain in Moscow, whose population sits below that of our university alone.

It’s time to say what must be said; Pullman needs a Trader Joe’s. The presence of this national chain in the local food landscape would massively increase the selection and suit the community extremely well. The frozen foods section would provide students with quick and easy (& sometimes healthier) options than those offered at Walmart or Dissmores, as well as introduce new frozen produce options.

Additionally, the two locations in the Spokane area are a regional testament to their ability to deliver quality fresh produce where other supermarket chains struggle. Their focus on natural options and range of selection for dietary restrictions would also be a service to those communities that struggle to shop in Pullman and instead turn to the Moscow Co-op.

Listen, it might be a stretch but the influence of a Trader Joe’s on the quality of life in Pullman is almost undeniable. If you also think we deserve a Trader Joe’s, they actually have a location request form on their website — so let’s all team up and spam them with ones for Pullman.