UHD Expands Food Scholarships
All Students Eligible to Receive Weekly Produce, Meals
By Mike Emery
Student success is dependent on drive, focus, determination, time management and many other factors. Proper nutrition also is essential for students to academically thrive.
The University of Houston-Downtown in partnership with the Houston Food Bank (HFB) already has food scholarships in place to help students have access fresh, healthy meals. This semester, the program was broadened to be inclusive of all Gators.
“We’ve opened up the food scholarships to all of our students,” said Tremaine Kwasikpui, director of UHD Student Activities.
According to Kwasikpui, students can apply for the scholarship by visiting the Food for Change Market (Room S292 in the One Main Building) and completing the required registration form. Students now have the opportunity to receive up to 40 pounds of food each week from UHD’s Food for Change Market.
Items available in the market include frozen meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, non-perishable foods (canned and boxed items), toiletries, baby supplies and cleaning products.
Eligibility is open to all students regardless of the number of hours taken during a semester or grade point average. Currently, more than 800 students are enrolled in this program.
“Nationwide, food insecurity is a problem on college campuses, including UHD,” Kwasikpui said. “We’ve expanded the program to support all of our students, but we couldn’t do that without the support of our partners at the Houston Food Bank and UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz.”
Many UHD students also are enrolled in classes at off campus locations such as UHD Northwest and take University courses at Lone Star College Kingwood and CyFair. Kwasikpui said those students also can benefit from the food scholarships.
“The Houston Food Bank has opened the Food for Change Network,” he said. “When students are part of the network, they can visit any HFB pantry to access food using their scholarship.”
Kwasikpui and Courtney Lundgren, director of Enrollment Communication & Client Relationship Management are the principal UHD staff members overseeing the scholarship and food deliveries (dropped off each Thursday by HFB) on campus. They’re supported by student workers Cristian Contreras and Ryan Sharp, and recent graduates Denia Contreras and Amanda Howard. Likewise, volunteers are essential to the program’s success, Kwasikpui said.
In 2018, Kwasikpui and Lundgren accepted UHD’s Higher Education Partner of the Year honor that was presented during the Houston Food Bank’s Higher Education Partner of the Year ceremony.
As part of its collaboration with the Houston Food Bank, UHD is participating in a study to evaluate students’ performance following the implementation of the scholarships. Students can opt into the study, and Houston Food Bank researchers will review academic performance and other data measuring student success.
“Student scholarship recipients not only can feed their own student success at the Food for Change Market, they also can feed their families,” Kwasikpui said. “It’s very gratifying to know that these food scholarships support our students and the community.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.