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APOYO could be without a home by the end of June.

Central Washington University has decided it will not renew the lease for APOYO food and clothing bank to operate on CWU campus. APOYO has until June 30 to move from its current location on 18th Avenue near the CWU Challenge Course.

This comes at time when national changes will cut food benefits to thousands of people. In Washington, more than 75,000 people will lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to the Department of Social and Health Services.

According to its website, APOYO, provides ethnically sensitive food and support to a diverse population. Everyone is welcome. It is open twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and has no restrictions on the number of times clients can take food. No personal data is collected, and no one is turned away. APOYO can also deliver food in emergency situations.

CWU Dean of Student Success Gregg Heinselman, said the university decided to not renew the lease because CWU was not getting enough out of the arrangement to make it beneficial for the university.

“It is a non-university program that doesn’t serve students and our students aren’t volunteering at,” Heinselman said. “CWU needs to receive something in return.”

The original agreement stated that APOYO would provide an opportunity for students with a way to engage, work, volunteer and intern with the program, and Heinselman said this has “not been the recent history of what has been going on there.”

However, APOYO President Philip Garrison said that APOYO does serve CWU students, and there have been 156 student work hours from CWU fall quarter 2018 to spring quarter 2019. CWU sophomore Audrey Moore currently is volunteering with APOYO because volunteering is a requirement of one of her classes. Moore is majoring in physical education and school health, she has been volunteering with APOYO since Jan. 17.

“This place worked really well with my schedule and I like what they are doing,” Moore said.

Heinselman said that in the 13 months he has been the director of Student Services, he has never received any updates from APOYO regarding student involvement.

Garrison and his wife, Patricia Garrison, who serves as secretary/treasurer for APOYO said if their lease is not renewed, then there is nowhere for APOYO to go. CWU has been allowing APOYO to operate on CWU property, with the university paying for utilities and charging no monthly rent. Without this arrangement, APOYO cannot afford to pay for residency in another location.

In 2019, APOYO received the annual Kittitas County Public Health Champion Award from the Kittitas County Board of Health Advisory Committee.

In announcing the award, Andrew Lyons, heath advisory chair said, “We felt that APOYO deserved this year’s award because of their ongoing dedication to serving those in need.They are an all-volunteer organization that has continuously gone the extra mile to ensure people receive the most basic elements of public health — food and clothing.”

Patricia Garrison said she and Philip started APOYO 25 years ago distributing food out of the back of a pickup truck. They have been moved around multiple times over the years, most recently when they were removed from the Old Heat Building in 2016. They said the university told them they need to building, and that they had to move. What really “galls” them is since they have been moved out of the Old Heat Building, the university has done nothing with it. They hope if they are moved out of their current location, CWU does something with it.

“If they kick us out, we will get another pickup truck and distribute food on President Gaudino’s lawn,” Patricia Garrison said.


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