Cougs step up.

Numerous courageous people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic—nurses, doctors, first responders, and essential workers—sacrificed and helped us all. Many WSU alumni, faculty, and staff sought ways to support them, and to reach out to those in need.


When DAYTON DEKAM heard about the mission last spring, he jumped at the chance to get food to people in need.

“Many of the food banks were overwhelmed or even shut down entirely, meaning that countless families were unemployed with no access to school lunches or household food,” says Dekam, a full-time Washington State University computer science student and member of the Air National Guard who’s spent long days distributing food to families throughout the region.

Two Air National Guard members get canned goods from box for food bank
WSU student and Air National Guard member Dayton Dekam delivering food at a food bank. (Courtesy WSU News)

The need is great because of the pandemic. The United Nations projected that because of COVID-19, the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double to 265 million.

At the food banks where Dekam assists, 80 percent of those being served have never needed help before. And, because they are elderly or at risk, many of the usual volunteers have not been able to help.

WSU groups statewide have launched other efforts to increase food security. ASWSU, WSU Alumni Association chapters, and campus groups held successful food drives. WSU Master Gardeners produced more than 65,000 pounds of fresh food for food banks, thanks to the work of nearly 5,000 volunteers.

At all campuses, food pantries continue to serve students in need. And, to help the economy and get food to people, Executive Chef JAMIE CALLISON and others at WSU Pullman developed “Pullman Serves It Forward,” through which people can donate gift cards for local restaurants.



WSU Extension’s Food Systems Program created the COVID-19 HUB, online resources to better assist farms, food businesses, and consumers affected by COVID-19: