What is the Cougar Cupboard?
The Cougar Cupboard was created in partnership with the Houston Food Bank as part of their Food for Change market network to assist any students who may be challenged by food insecurity or scarcity.
The Cougar Cupboard is free for every currently enrolled University of Houston student. The only requirement to use the Cougar Cupboard is to be enrolled in at least one class for the current semester; each student can receive up to 30 lbs of food each week, including fresh produce, frozen products, dairy, household supplies, snacks and pantry staples.
Can I still use the Cupboard even though I’m a commuter/international student/part-time student/etc?
Yes, all University of Houston students are able to use the Cougar Cupboard. The only qualification is to be enrolled in one class for the current semester (students may use the Cougar Cupboard during the summer semester if they are enrolled for the upcoming fall semester).
I need assistance but I am not qualified to use the Cougar Cupboard.
The Houston Food Bank has a wide network of other resources available across Houston, which can be found on their website.
How often can I use the Cupboard?
Students may use the Cupboard as often as they prefer as long as they remain within their weekly poundage. Each student may receive 30 lbs of groceries per week, whether they get it all at once or across multiple visits. This poundage resets every Monday and does not carry over between weeks.
I cannot make it to the Cougar Cupboard, can my friend/relative/roommate come for me?
Yes, students may send “substitute shoppers” to pick up food on their behalf if they are unable to make it to the Cougar Cupboard. All substitute shoppers must be informed of the student’s PeopleSoft ID# and Food Scholarship ID#, as these are required at checkout.
Where does the Cougar Cupboard get its items from?
The Cougar Cupboard receives the majority of its inventory from its partner, the Houston Food Bank. All items are checked for quality by the Houston Food Bank and again by the Cougar Cupboard staff upon arrival.
Other items are purchased from outside distributors or received from individual donations, which are then checked to ensure they are within food safety guidelines.
What items does the Cougar Cupboard have?
The inventory changes each week, but you can always expect staples like grains (pasta, rice, oats), canned vegetables and meals, snacks, fresh produce, and more. Household items are often available, as well. Regular inventory updates are provided through Instagram (@uhcupbrd) and through email.
Why is there food past its “Best By” date?
The Cougar Cupboard follows the Houston Food Bank’s guidelines on food quality, which can be found on their website. It is normal for food banks to receive food close to or slightly past its “Best By” date, and most food can still be eaten safely for up to several months past this date.
Does the Cougar Cupboard qualify as a government service?
No, the Cougar Cupboard is a partnership between the University of Houston and the Houston Food Bank and does not qualify as a government service. Students are asked to sign up with the Houston Food Bank to use the service, but their information does not leave the Houston Food Bank’s database and is only used for demographic purposes.
Can I return items I haven’t used or donate items from my pantry?
Yes, the Cougar Cupboard accepts all donations as long as items are unused, unopened, and follow proper food quality guidelines.