Academics & Research

Grant fuels food studies

The Gulf Coast Food Project, directed by three UH professors, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to potentially develop new food studies courses in the UH curriculum.

Founded in 2009, the Gulf Coast Food Project is co-directed by history associate professors Todd Romero and Monica Perales and communications associate professor Temple Northup. It is housed in the Center for Public History and is supported by the Center for Public History, the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Through the collaborative efforts of these three professors, a website has been created to provide education on Houston food and its cultural history.

“We can have conversations about the environment and sustainability, culture, health, labor, gender — because all of these are connected to food. Food allows us to have meaningful dialogue with others around our common humanity,” Perales said.

The primary purpose of the Gulf Coast Food Project is to study food in the Gulf Coast region and the culture behind it. With the grant money given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the directors of the project will be able to add as many as nine more courses to curriculum that will eventually lead to the development of an Interdisciplinary Food Studies minor at UH.

The Food for Thought Speaker series is another development in the Gulf Coast Food Project that encourages the study of food and is open to the University and general public. In addition, the Gulf Coast Food Project plans to hold a conference titled “America Eats Revisited” on race and ethnicity in American food customs.

Northup teaches a course in documentary filmmaking in which students create their own films about the Houston community and food. The first time Perales and Northup collaborated was when Perales’ history students worked with Northup’s communication students to create seven short film projects about Houston’s food.

“It is important to reach out to the community, because that is what has made us most successful,” Northup said. “We hope to be a part of the food film festival later this year.”

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