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To the Editor:

Central Washington University has for more than 20 years provided free space to APOYO to assist its efforts to combat food insecurity. In recent years, APOYO has occupied an older building on the east side of campus under terms of a Memorandum of Understanding. The building was in very poor condition when APOYO moved in and the university noted the need for them to find more appropriate space.

When APOYO informed the university that it had not developed a plan for the transition, CWU extended the agreement to give APOYO additional time, but that the building they were occupying was continuing to deteriorate and could not be considered a long-term location.

In January 2020, six months prior to the end of the lease extension, CWU officially notified APOYO that the building had been condemned by university health and safety experts, and APOYO would need to make plans to transition their operations by June of 2020. During this period, CWU staff offered assistance to APOYO to help find a path forward by working with other community organizations. Offers of assistance were made by community groups, but were subsequently rejected by the APOYO leadership.

Additional extension of the MOU would require substantial upgrades to the building to protect the users’ health and safety. CWU does not have sources of funding to make the required improvements to the building. Nor is there other appropriate and available space.

At last month’s Board of Trustees meeting leaders of APOYO appealed to the Trustees for another extension of the lease. After the Board meeting Chair Ron Erickson and I agreed to offer APOYO an additional few months to facilitate their transition to other space.

There are many CWU employees — including my wife and me — who would offer help. FISH has reached out to provide space, and I am confident that in a community as generous and caring as Ellensburg, there are many people who will step up to contribute to assist APOYO in finding a positive way forward.

The key to APOYO’s continued success must now be found in their willingness to cooperate and to work with our community.

James L. Gaudino

President, CWU, Ellensburg

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