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FAQ - The Empowerment Center

Client Questions

What is The Empowerment Center (TEC)?

TEC is a faculty-led initiative designed to help students meet needs in their lives so they can be successful in college.

TEC has many different items for your needs such as shelf-stable food, toiletries, school supplies, cleaning supplies, diapers, winter coats, and career clothing.

What is a food pantry?

A food pantry is for those people who are finding it challenging to purchase food. A food pantry is usually staffed by volunteers to help people in need of food.

Who can use The Empowerment Center?

The Empowerment Center is open to all Lone Star College-CyFair students. The Food for Thought Food Pantry is open to students and employees of LSC-CyFair (including centers). The Career Closet is open for students of LSC-CyFair (including centers).

What are the hours?

During the long semesters (fall and spring) we try to be open Monday - Friday 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. This is based upon employee volunteer availability, so there may be times when the center is closed. If you are a night or weekend student, you may access TEC during the evening/weekend class times by contacting the evening/weekend coordinator at 281.290.3233.

What do I do if TEC is not open?

If TEC is not open during the time of evening or weekend classes, you may contact the evening/weekend coordinator at 281-290-3233. Otherwise, please visit during the open hours 10 - 3, Monday through Friday during the long semesters. The hours will change during the short and summer semesters.

How do I use TEC?

You may come in during the open hours and a volunteer will help you with your needs – food, toiletries, school supplies, etc. If you need additional help outside of food and career clothing, please let the volunteer know. If he/she cannot help you, you can visit with a campus counselor for free.

Do I have to pay for anything in TEC?

All items in TEC are at no cost to those who need them.

How many times can I use TEC resources?

The TEC works on the honor system. At this time there is not a limit on how many times you may shop for items in TEC. You may take what you feel you need at that time, and one day when you are able, you are free to donate back to TEC. You may also take food to last you and your immediate family in your household for a couple of days or over the weekend.

Who is going to know if I use TEC?

When you enter TEC to shop for food or other supplies, you will enter your college ID number (or employee ID number if not a student) into the Accutrack database like you do in the Academic Success Center (tutoring) and assessment areas. We are collecting data in general, such as how many visitors there are to TEC.

If you would like to use the Career Closet you will leave your name and phone number on a form so that someone can make an appointment with you to select clothing.

What type of food is in the pantry, and can you accommodate special diets?

The pantry runs on the generous donations of our students and employees. Although we do have a list of suggested donations, we get what is donated. We do usually have canned vegetables, canned meat, canned fruit, beans, rice, pasta, sauces, cereal, and other shelf-stable staples.

Why does one of the food items I got have an expired date?

Food can actually be eaten well after the expiration dates in most cases. TEC follows the Houston Food Bank (HFB) expiration guidelines and adds a specific amount of time (as indicated by HFB) to expired items to show the “new” expiration date. 

How does the Career Closet work?

The Career Closet is for students who have a scheduled interview or an upcoming class presentation and find it challenging to purchase professional clothing. The Career Closet makes appointments for fittings. You (students) may come by and fill out a form in order to have someone call you for an appointment. Once you have chosen an outfit during that appointment you get to keep that outfit for future use. If you have questions or want to use the Career Closet please contact Pam Reed at Pamelyn.J.Reed@lonestar.edu.

What if I am homeless?

The TEC tries to keep items on hand such as toothbrush/toothpaste kits, can openers, etc. to help you if you are homeless. Of course, we always refer to the counseling department to try to help you find a safe place to live.

Where can I find other campus resources?

Please visit the counseling department in CASA 109. You may also view the following link for general campus resources: http://www.lonestar.edu/cyfair-studentsuccess

Counselor Questions

What is the purpose of the counselors on campus?

Counseling professionals are trained to assist you in meeting your academic, career and personal goals. Change, stress and personal growth are all elements of the college experience. Lone Star College CyFair counselors are dedicated to helping you succeed through a variety of services. Counselors are available in the Empowerment Center CASA 121 or in Counseling Services CASA 109. You can contact Counseling Services at 281.290.3260.

Why is there a counselor in TEC?

There is a counselor available most days in TEC to provide emotional support and other resources to you when you visit TEC. Counselors want to be accessible to you when you need them, so they are spending office time in TEC to help you.

Why is the main door of CASA 121 open sometimes, and yet the doors on the inside are closed?

We have counselors who are taking turns working in TEC to be available to students who visit TEC who might need emotional support. At times, the counselor is there so the door is open for students who have appointments with the counselor, but the pantry itself is not open because there is not a volunteer present. If there is not a volunteer present, the pantry/career closet is not open and the doors to those rooms are closed.

Donation Questions

How can I donate to TEC?

You can donate to TEC by visiting CASA 121 and dropping off your items when we are open. 

What do you accept for donations?

Please view the following links to see what we are currently accepting: http://www.lonestar.edu/cyfair-food-pantry.htm

Do you accept money as a donation?

Although it may be easier to donate money, it is preferred that you donate items in kind, meaning the actual food, toiletries, and clothing. Any money that is donated is sent to the LSC-Foundation and reserved in the Food For Thought Food Pantry account for emergencies.

What should I NOT donate?

TEC cannot accept the following items: refrigerated or frozen items, fresh food, baby food or formula, dog food in dry packages (canned dog food is okay), medication, baked goods, dented cans, expired food, glass containers, food items without expiration dates, large commercial bags of items (grains, rice) that have to be repackaged.

What do you do with food that is expired/dented or clothing that cannot be used?

We do not throw anything away. Everything that is received and cannot be used is re-homed to another non-profit agency.

Are my donations tax deductible?

If you ask we will provide a slip of paper that the volunteer can sign indicating what you have donated. You and your tax expert will have to determine for yourself if the items are tax deductible.

Do I need to let TEC know if my club or class is collecting items?

Yes, we work closely with the clubs, classes, service learning projects, and other groups on campus to help them choose what to collect and donate so that we have a consistent supply of a variety of items. If you are a club, please contact Aurora Lugo at Aurora.Lugo@lonestar.edu. If you are a class (or working on a service-learning project) please contact Gail Marxhausen at Gail@LoneStar.edu.

Organizational Questions

Where does the food (and other items) in TEC come from?

All items in TEC are generously donated by students, employees and friends of Lone Star College-CyFair.  Student fees and college funds are not used to purchase the items that are given out in TEC.

Is TEC associated with any other agency?

Many times people assume we are affiliated with other agencies such as the Houston Food Bank or Dress for Success. Although wonderful agencies, we are not affiliated with any other entity, and so far we have been able to meet our demand by the generosity of our college family (students and employees). Many agencies require the collection of personal information such as financial information, and we are trying to prevent any barriers that would inhibit you from using the TEC resources.

Volunteer Questions

Who works in TEC?         

Employees (professors, instructors, librarians, staff, deans, etc.) volunteer their time to work in TEC helping students with the Food for Thought Food Pantry, Career Closet and other resources. Counselors spend part of their day working in TEC as well.

If I am a student can I volunteer in TEC?

Due to the confidential nature of a food pantry and the counseling area within TEC, only employees can volunteer in TEC. If you are a student you may get involved by donating or through service learning in a class or through a club. You can also join the TEC club that will allow you (students) to volunteer to help by collecting items, organizing and marketing. For more information, please contact Professor Jason Fernandez at Jason.Fernandez@lonestar.edu.

Other Questions?

If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop by CASA 121 or email CF-Food@lonestar.edu.

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