Retriever Essentials

Retriever Essentials

Free Food & Essentials for Everyone in the UMBC Community!

Retriever Essentials is a faculty, staff, and student-led partnership that promotes food access in the UMBC community. We offer free groceries, toiletries, baby items, and meal swipes, and have opportunities to engage and get involved. All of the below resources are 100% free.

The Essential Space

The Essential Space is our free grocery store in the Retriever Activities Center, room 235, where you can pick up free groceries, toiletries, and baby items. Please check our website ( or our Instagram page (@umbcretrieveressentials) for hours.

Fresh Food Pop-Up

Every Thursday 2:15pm to 2:45pm, come to the right side of the AOK Library (see our Instagram or email us at for the exact location). Partner food recovery organization So What Else provides us with a wide variety of fresh food each week!

Free Corner Stores

Free corner stores contain a selection of non-perishable foods and snacks available for free. They are located in the Atrium at AOK Library and the Campus Police Station (open 24/7, 365 days a year – if the door to the Station is locked, pick up the phone in the call box and the dispatcher will let you in).

Food Zones

Food zones are our several locations on campus where you can go to the front desk and ask for a free, pre-packaged bag of non-perishable foods. These food zones include: Mosaic Center (Commons, 2nd Floor), Off-Campus Student Services (Commons, 1st Floor), Honors College (Library), and Women’s Center (Commons, 1st Floor) – see website for updates on open food zones.


Save-A-Swipe is a community pool of donated meal swipes that are available to UMBC students who qualify, based on a conversation with a staff member. Each swipe constitutes one meal. Email to request to receive swipes.

Get Involved!

We have many opportunities to get involved, from volunteering in-person, to supporting with social media and event planning. You could also partner with us with your student organization or on a project for one of your classes in any subject.