Grover Essentials is a service that provides students, faculty, and staff at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) with the opportunity to get staple foods, toiletries, and baby items at no cost to them. It was started as a way to increase food access and promote wellness at USG. Grover Essentials had its grand opening on August 20th and so far it has had great success as measured by the number of total visits, number of unique customers, and self-reported satisfaction with this service. The only requisite to use Grover Essentials is to have a valid USG ID. Customers also fill out an intake and liability form the first time they shop at Grover Essentials and fill out a satisfaction survey after each use. Customers are encouraged to visit Grover Essentials once a week.
Increasing food access and promoting wellness became a central idea to the creation of Grover Essentials as the more we talked to students, faculty, and staff it became apparent that this would not only be a beneficial service but also a much needed one. In Psychology classes we are taught about Maslow’s pyramid of human needs and the first level is composed of securing physiological requirements for breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep. Keeping this in mind we decided that if we could help students attain their basic needs, they would be better prepared to help themselves with succeeding in their education and personal lives.
Food insecurity has recently been a hot topic among researchers as studies have shown that college students at all levels (2-year and 4-year colleges) are experiencing hunger and having to make decisions between paying for food, housing, and tuition bills (Blumenthal & Chu, 2018). Food insecurity is defined as, “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner. The most extreme form is often accompanied with physiological sensations of hunger” (Goldrick-Rab, Richardson, & Hernandez, 2017).
The University of Wisconsin’s Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (HOPE) Lab surveyed more than 33,000 students across 70 colleges in the United States and they found that 67% of the students were food insecure (Goldrick-Rab, Richardson, & Hernandez, 2017). Not only is this significant from the standpoint that the majority of college students surveyed were experiencing food insecurity but also because this was much higher than the 12.3% of Americans in the general population who reported being food insecure according to the United States Department of Agriculture (America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home, n.d.). Being centered in one of the wealthiest counties in the country does not completely insulate us from these issues. Manna reports that 79,000 to 81,000 Montgomery County residents do not know where their next meal will be coming from (Manna Food Center, n.d.). Grover Essentials has become one of the tools we are using to ameliorate this reality for our students.
Grover Essentials was made possible through the generous donations from various departments and individuals at USG. We are thrilled with the response and usage that Grover Essentials has gotten thus far. We have had more traffic than we had previously anticipated and as a result we have secured two UMBC interns to help us keep up with the demand. Manna has also been a strong supporter of the Grover Essentials effort and has committed to helping us restock Grover Essentials as need arises. We are fully stocked so pass the word around and come check us out!
America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Blumenthal, S., M.D., & Chu, C. (2018, August 06). Food Insecurity on College Campuses.
Retrieved from https://www.clasp.org/press-room/news-clips/food-insecurity-college-campuses
Goldrick-Rab, S., Richardson, J., & Hernandez, A. (2017). Hungry and homeless in college:
Results from a national study of basic needs insecurity in higher education. Madison, WI:
Wisconsin Hope Lab.
Manna Food Center | Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from