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UGA meal plan scholarship program to expand

Bolton Dining Commons serving line-h
Students select food in UGA's Bolton Dining Commons.

Halsey and Lisha Wise make major gift to eliminate food insecurity among UGA students

Athens, Ga. – More University of Georgia students will be able to concentrate on their education and worry less about finding meals thanks to a significant six-figure gift from the R. Halsey Wise and Lisha S. Wise Family Foundation to the Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship, which is an integral part of UGA’s commitment to overall need-based scholarship programs.

The food scholarship sponsors UGA Food Services meal plans for students with demonstrated need. Established by the Division of Student Affairs in 2015 with an initial gift from Wayne and Robin Hoover of Atlanta, the program began with two student recipients. Over the following year, additional support from alumni and donors, as well as the contribution of four food scholarships from UGA Food Services, has enabled the program to support more than a dozen students, nine this past semester alone.

The Wises’ gift will transform the scholarship to make an exponentially greater impact.

“Our gift is aimed at a goal of addressing food insecurity and eliminating hunger at UGA,” said Halsey and Lisha Wise of Ponte Vedra, Florida. “We are excited and humbled to assist in the university’s efforts to end student hunger on campus.”

College student food insecurity is increasingly becoming a focus of study and discussion on major college campuses across the country. Food insecurity-lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food-can impede students in several ways, from financial strain, to time commitment, to nutrition quality and wellness.

Louis York, a spring 2016 graduate from Fort Mitchell, Alabama, and food scholarship recipient, said he didn’t realize how much his food insecurity was affecting his education.

“I was basically to the point where I was going to withdraw from school, quit my student involvement, and pick up as many work hours as possible to begin paying off my loans,” York said. “I was out of money, and then, the university offers this food scholarship.”

York said the scholarship made a huge difference in his life. His diet improved, providing greater energy for his involvement and studies. He was able to scale back his work hours and concentrate more on being a student.

“UGA people are willing to step in and be family. They genuinely care about me,” he said. “I will always be thankful for the education, sure. But I’m most thankful for the family I’ve gained and the support UGA showed me.”

The Wises, who have two children in college, said they couldn’t imagine their kids choosing between buying books for class and buying food.

“College life is full of stress and challenges, and adding hunger into this equation is difficult to comprehend,” they said. “In addition to helping the students, we hope to relieve the stress of their parents who will know that their child will have access to UGA’s impressive food system.”

Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs, said the gift is a remarkable expansion for the food scholarship program.

“This gift enables us to improve the lives of many more students who suffer from food insecurity and hunger,” Wilson said. “We are incredibly grateful to have partners like the Wises, who truly value the student experience at UGA.”

UGA Student Affairs
The Division of Student Affairs comprises 18 campus departments that enhance the learning environment for students at the University of Georgia by stimulating the learning process, integrating the in-class and out-of-class experiences, promoting an environment conducive to growth and discovery and facilitating intellectual, spiritual, social, occupational, physical, cultural and emotional development. For more information, see

Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship
For more information about the Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship, see