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Christine Stevens, RN, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Phone Number
Campus Mailbox



University of Washington Seattle


Dr. Christine Stevens is an associate professor in the UW Tacoma Nursing and Healthcare programs. She received her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on social justice and how structural disadvantages affect health especially in low-income residents and adolescent populations focusing on housing and food insecurity.  Dr. Stevens uses participatory research to develop long-term relationships with communities and partners with residents to develop interventions that are relevant at the local level.

Her teaching focuses on the social determinants of health, using social marketing to address social justice in communities, exploring how popular film and media construct our view of adolescents especially in terms of race, class, and gender. She was given the UWT Distinguished Teaching award in 2012 and featured in the Provost 2014 series of Innovators among us: Using technology to engage students.

Stevens (May 2019) UW study finds many students at Tacoma campus struggle to pay rent, get enough to eat. Tacoma News Tribune.

Stevens (October 2018) Faculty engagement and Emergency Aid. Gates Foundation

Stevens (July 2018) How to Engage Faculty on Campuses in Emergency Aid Programs. NASPA National Association of Student Administrators in Higher Education.

Stevens (June 2018) NPR interview: Food Insecurity Is A Growing Obstacle For College Students

Representative Derek Kilmer and Stevens, C.(May 2018) Facebook live chat about Farm Bill and Food insecurity in College Students

UWT ledger (April 2018) Efforts made to combat student food and housing insecurity

UW News (March 2018) Christine Stevens co-leads tri-campus survey on student housing, food insecurity

Stevens, C & McNair, R (September 2017) Homelessness in Tacoma and work of MDC

Stevens, C. (October 2014). Health Centers and Academic Institutions: Promising Practices for Successful Collaborations. National Healthcare for the Homeless. Council

Stevens, C (2011) (Film produced/Grant funded) University and Homeless agency collaborations

Scholarly Interests

  • Food insecurity in adolescent populations
  • Adolescent health
  • Socioeconomic influences on adolescent health
  • Public housing and health
  • Using technology in adolescent research
  • Healthcare for the homeless
  • Social marketing


  • Qualitative methods
  • Visual methods in research
  • Critical social theory
  • Community evaluation

Honors and Awards

  • 2019 Student Choice award for Outstanding Faculty
  • 2018 Nominee, City of Destiny
  • 2017 Distinguished Community Engagement Award
  • 2015 Community Partner Award, Salishan Community Health Advocates
  • 2015 Featured in Provost report on Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century report
  • 2015 Students Choice: Outstanding faculty (OS3)
  • 2014 Featured for teaching in Provost report on Trends and Issues in Higher Education
  • 2014 Innovators among us: Using Technology to engage students: featured in Provost Report
  • 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award, UW Tacoma
  • 2010 Hooding Speaker for Master of Nursing: Faculty selected by students
  • 2009 National League of Nursing, Scholarly Writing
  • 2009 Nominee, Distinguished Teaching Award, UW Tacoma
  • 2008 Nominee, Women of Influence, WA
  • 2008 Nominee, Distinguished Teaching Award, UW Tacoma
  • 2006 Hooding Speaker: Faculty selected by student
  • 2006 Volunteer of the Year, Faith Homes Shelter for Homeless Teens, Tacoma, Washington
  • 2003 Volunteer of the Year, Faith Homes Shelter for Homeless Teens, Tacoma, Washington

Current Research

Access if not equity: Expanding Cultural Food Resources  2019 – 2021

Christine A Stevens PhD Principal Investigator and Project Director

Funded by Kresge Foundation Association of Public & Land Grant Universities (APLU) Community of Opportunity Grant     

Purpose:. To promote an inclusive environment by increasing culturally relevant items in University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) food pantry and Nourish Food Banks that accommodate traditional ethnic diets, a practice that contributes to creating a welcoming sense of community, demonstrates cultural relevancy, and advances our mission of integrating equitable practices for student success.  To strengthen partnership between UWT and Nourish to provide food insecure students  and Nourish clients’ needs for cultural foods 

Collaboration: The UWT food pantry has a collaboration to supply food at low cost with the Nourish Pierce County (Nourish) which is the largest food distributer for 19 food banks and runs 7 food banks and 2 mobile sites in Pierce Country, Washington. 

Outline of Project:  This project used a participatory community approach to conduct a community assessment at UWT and Nourish food banks about cultural foods requested.  The methods used were focus groups conducted in different languages by students and community members and  online surveys were distributed  to UWT students. The data was to be used for Food Justice Summit with the community to explore sustainable ways to have access to the identified cultural foods. However, due to COVID 19, the summit was cancelled and a survey about food security during campus closure was conducted. 

Results: Three Nourish focus groups found that 80% of participants identified as low food security and 10% identified as homeless. Food requested was similar to the food identified from UWT focusing on spices, specific rice products, and fresh fruit and vegetables that were used in their cooking. The focus groups also requested volunteers that spoke their language, Hallal food kept in separate area, and protection from the weather while waiting in line.

UWT : Eighty three percent of the participants fluctuated between very low and low food security even with federal financial aid and employment.   Six percent of participants had children,7% lived in crowded situation with more than six people in the space and 3% identified as homeless. An overwhelming majority of students emphasized how important spices were in their cultural/ethnic foods. Students also requested quick meals that did not have to be cooked as  some lacked access to kitchens . One of the most requested types of foods was prepared meals that could be eaten while they were on campus. Due to the lack of affordable food and UWT in a food desert, students often did not eat the entire day. Muslim students would like Hallal food to be stored respectful to their religious requirements. The other requests are for extended hours, access to food on weekends, and food bank accessible at Court 17. The focus groups and surveys did reveal that cultural food in food bank would create a sense of belonging for the students

Sustainable Solutions based on this research:  Nourish had received a full list of requested food from Nourish clients and UWT students in Jan 2020. Nourish leadership were making plans to order food requested and the Food Justice Summit  was going to develop a sustainable source of the food. However, COVID 19 pandemic struck Washington State in March 2020 and quickly highlighted the precarious food security of residents in Pierce County and the focus had to be on supplying food to larger number of people. The plans for cultural foods and sustainable access will be targeted when restrictions are lifted.

Both UWT and Nourish food banks had plans to change how they served Muslim students and clients. The plan was for designated Hallal food and education of the food bank supervisors and staff about what is Hallal food and the reasons for this important change. UWT got a grant for a greenhouse to grow spices requested by students and there were plans for spice food drives during the year. Once the public health issue of COVID 19 is resolved, both UWT and Nourish have plans to implement ordering requested food and seeking sustainable sources for cultural food.

Exploring Food insecurity among UWT Students during COVID 19

Christine A Stevens PhD Principal Investigator and Project Director 2020-2021

Background of this Project: University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) was awarded a Community Opportunity Grant (COG) in January 2019 for the project entitled “Access is not Equity: Expanding Cultural Food Resources of UWT and Community food banks”. This project proposed a participatory community approach to conduct a community assessment at UWT and with our community partner Nourish food banks about cultural foods requested by students and clients.  The methods used were focus groups conducted in different languages by students and community members and  online surveys were distributed  to UWT students. The data was to be used for Food Justice Summit with the community to explore sustainable ways to have access to the identified cultural foods. However, due to COVID 19, and closing of  Washington State, the April  2020 summit was cancelled. (see previous Access is not  Equity report to APLU on 12/1/2020 for full summary of original work).

Proposed plan for this revised part of the grant: This unique and challenging time in the US demanded that we conduct research about addressing the needs for food during a pandemic. Systematic inequity that creates poverty and hunger created even more food insecurity among marginalized populations. UWT needed to  become more creative and flexible in our responses in college food banks as well as community food banks. We proposed to do a descriptive study of the creative ways that UWT responded during this time. We created  a survey for students served by the food pantry from March – present, conduct zoom interviews with food pantry workers, community partners that supported food pantry and administrators to reflect on how to address food insecurity during national disasters.

Results: There were only 215 participants in this study and despite targeted marketing of the survey there was only a 5% of campus return. This survey was conducted during Autumn Quarter 2020 during the stress of online education and the burden of survey fatigue. The results demonstrated that those who had food and basic needs insecurity before campus closure continued to be burdened. Eighty nine percent of the participants stated that they ate less due to lack of money and 21% admitted to going hungry due to lack of money for food. While the UWT Pantry developed some creative solutions for food delivery and preboxed weekly groceries, only 6% of the participants used the delivery services and 11% used the preboxed service. However, they did report using meal sites and food banks in their own communities (21%). Many students reported applying for food stamps and unemployment benefits to supplement their income. While this study focused on food security, the intersection of all the other basic needs such as housing and income affected their ability to access safe and affordable food. Eighty five percent were laid off or had reduced hours during campus closure while 21% met the McKinley Vento definition of homelessness. 

Sustainable Solutions:  Nationally, the pandemic made visible the extent of poverty and hunger in the United States.  Before COVID 19, UWT has been aware that  33% of the student population were food insecure and 18% were homeless which is why we started the UWT Pantry and Office of Student Advocacy. This pandemic also highlighted the inequity among our students such as students using their phone for online classes, unstable housing arrangements ,employment that paid livable wages, and  lack of affordable accessible food on campus. In addition, this unique time in higher education  demonstrated the lack of policies that support student retention. Once we went fully online campus that we started to think about policies such allowing students to drop classes without retribution, thinking about fees that block registration such as  fees for late books or parking fees etc. and access to resources on campus that fit student lives and schedules and provide online support. Faculty were encouraged to not fail students but seek out ways to keep them connected and provide resources referrals for basic needs. As an Urban Serving campus, we need to take advantage of the lessons that we have learned during this unprecedented event. UWT is continuing to deliver food to students as well as developed more emergency housing for UWT students. The support of the students was due to systemic changes that support students holistically.. As an urban serving campus, while the pandemic has revealed inequities in healthcare, education, and racial justice, it has provided an opportunity to rethink how we serve students.

Student Housing and Food Insecurity Study 

Fyall, Stevens & Manzo
The purpose of the Student Housing and Food Insecurity Study is to understand the prevalence of housing and food insecurity among university students across the University of Washington’s (UW’s) three campuses (UW-Seattle, UW-Tacoma, and UW-Bothell). This study is motivated not only by concerns regarding the increased cost of living in the Puget Sound region, but also by the lack of systematic information about how UW students on all three campuses might be affected by these economic changes. This study is the first to systematically examine the extent of housing and food insecurity among the entire University of Washington student population.

Overall, this research project seeks to address the following research questions:

  1. How prevalent is housing and food insecurity among UW students across all campuses – Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell?
  2. What are the characteristics of UW students experiencing housing and/or food insecurity?
  3. What factors are associated with housing and food insecurity among UW students?

This study is a project of Urban@UW’s Homelessness Research Initiative.

Access is not Equity: Expanding Cultural Food Resources
To address the basic needs of all our student and to promote an inclusive environment,I proposed to increase culturally relevant items in our food pantry that accommodate diversity of diets, a practice that contributes to creating a welcoming sense of community, demonstrates cultural relevancy, and advances our mission of integration equitable practices for student success. Nourish Pierce County is the largest food supplier to UWT Food pantry and all food banks in Pierce County and would also like to explore the cultural food needs of the diverse communities that they serve. This partnership uses UWT research resources to explore UWT students and Pierce County food insecure residents’ needs for cultural foods. Based on the results of surveys and focus groups , Nourish will be able t to use its network of food suppliers and farms to distribute cultural foods wanted by UWT students and food insecure clients of Pierce County

Nov 2017-present:
 Housing vouchers to address college student housing insecurity
 Sara Goldrick Rab-Temple University
 Stevens-TCC Tacoma research partner

July 2017-present:
 Emergency Aid
 Gates Foundation
 UWT Team

July 2017-present:
 Tricampus Food and housing insecurity survey
 Fyall, Stevens, & Manzo, Co PIs

Food insecurity among college students
Principal investigator
Nursing Founders Funding

Healthcare for the Homeless and University Collaborations 
National Healthcare for the Homeless Coalition

Salishan Hope IV Evaluation
Study of a Multi-Ethnic housing development
PI of project

Nurse Retention Study - Two Year Longitudinal Study
Factors that influence new RN retention within the first two years following graduation
Funding: Middleton Family Grant
Stevens & Moceri, Co-PIs

Center for the Advancement of Health Disparities, Pilot study funding
Food insecurity of Female Head of Households (ages 15- 24)

Principal investigator, Images and Voices: Adolescent Mothers
Negotiating Socioeconomic Environments and Health, Dissertation, University of Washington