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The Sulzbacher Homelessness Project:


When UNF faculty and staff participated in the Community Engagement Inventory in the spring of 2018, the institution discovered for the first time how many departments and other units have collaborative partnerships with the Sulzbacher Center. They include, but are not limited to, School of Nursing and Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Brooks College of Health, the Department of Management in the Coggin College of Business and in the College of Arts and Sciences, the following academic programs—Social Work, Psychology, and Public Administration. Co-curricular partnerships include Housing & Residence Life, the Interfaith Center, Food Fighters, and UNF Athletics.


Sulzbacher Center offers complete services to men, women, families, and veterans in order to provide immediate support as well as long term transitioning to permanent housing. Each day the Center provides safe shelter to 360 men, women and families, provides health care to more than 200 patients and serves more than 1,500 meals. UNF’s participation helps support Sulzbacher Center’s life-saving efforts.


In this context, UNF students have opportunities to understand the complex societal factors that contribute to homelessness as they apply what they are learning with a particular focus on food security and mental health. Students gain an important perspective on socio-economic challenges that contribute to homelessness and realize how precarious financial security is for many individuals. Nutrition students assist in kitchen planning, preparing and serving lunch to residents and walk-in individuals. Social work students working under the supervision of Sulzbacher Center staff practice skills in case management, crisis intervention, and brokering of services. Other social science majors have their students work at the Center because an understanding of social problems unfolds in a dynamic way, as a deeper conception of poverty and homelessness develops. Students who volunteer with the Children’s Program learn about the harsh realities of children facing homelessness, the experience of life in a shelter, and develop self-expectations about the importance of giving back through community service.


One of UNF’s newest co-curricular groups, Food Fighters, a student-powered hunger relief team aims to fight for food justice by reducing food waste on campus and food insecurity within the Jacksonville community. This food recovery program collects leftover food from the Osprey Café, campus convenience stores and special events. Volunteers then use the donations to provide nutritious meals to be served through our community partners, including the Sulzbacher Center.


This partnership is so central to so many at UNF, that President Szymanski in his first weeks on campus, spent time at the Center.  In addition to meeting Cindy Funkhouser, the CEO, the president, as he put it in the Fall 2018 UNF Journal, “had the pleasure to work alongside a number of our outstanding students serving lunch at Sulzbacher. It was a tremendous experience being with these dedicated young people, visiting with the amazing Sulzbacher staff and talking with grateful clients served by the Center.”

For more information about Sulzbacher Center, please visit: