Campus food pantry helps hundreds of students

Jan. 1, 2018 at 5:45 p.m.
Updated Jan. 2, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Lauren Hightower-Emerson

Lauren Hightower-Emerson   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Lauren Emerson

I heard the University of Houston-Victoria has a food pantry available for students from the university and Victoria College. Has it seen much use, and how can I help?

Since opening in September, JP's Market has served 346 students, averaging 115 each week. From Sept. 29 to Dec. 1, the market was visited more than 1,000 times and distributed more than 5,000 pounds of food.

JP's Market, which stands for Jaguars' and Pirates' Market for the UHV and VC mascots, features a food pantry and a career closet. It is located on the first floor of UHV's Jaguar Suites residence hall, 2703 Houston Highway. Students can access the food pantry and career closet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday.

The food pantry is stocked with food from the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent and donations from the community. It includes basic food items such as milk, bread and meat; nonperishable food; and toiletries, toilet paper and other necessities.

UHV and VC students can access the pantry and other resources with their student IDs.

The career closet portion of JP's Market allows students to borrow a blazer or other clothing for job interviews. Students can pick up the clothing Friday and return it to the closet the following week. The closet also has regular clothes students can keep.

"JP's Market is the most impactful project that I have worked on in my professional career," said Michael Wilkinson, director of UHV Student Life and Services. "To see the joy that this brings to students' faces is phenomenal. When we first opened, students would ask us if everything was really free. We would laugh and say, 'Yes.' They couldn't believe it."

The pantry offers food to any student in need, so long as they meet criteria set forth by the USDA.

One student shared how the market helps her be able to eat during a day full of closely timed classes. She keeps packaged food in her backpack. This is food she'd otherwise not be able to afford if it weren't for JP's Market.

Although the market is visited by an average of 115 students a week, most of those are UHV students who live on campus, Wilkinson said. During the next year, UHV Student Life and Services is working to reach out to and better serve UHV commuters and VC students. They already have met with VC staff to plan various initiatives that will help make the market more accessible to the college's students.

One plan is to host pop-up markets at various locations on campus. Once commuters and VC students become familiar with the pantry through these pop-up locations, they likely will begin to come by the main location in Jaguar Suites.

The market is partially supported through donations from UHV and VC employees and the community. Donations can be made online at by choosing the Student Food Pantry option.

Do you have a question about the University of Houston-Victoria? Contact UHV Communications Specialist Lauren Emerson at 361-570-4342 or



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