CME Students, Volunteers Help Upgrade Grove Grocery

Remodeled space, new equipment make pantry better able to serve UM community

Kate Forster, director of advocacy for UMatter, places canned soups and vegetables on the new Grove Grocery shelves installed by Center of Manufacturing Excellence volunteers. The campus pantry provides free meals and hygiene items for dozens of Ole Miss students and employees each week. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Grove Grocery, the University of Mississippi‘s food pantry, recently got an upgrade, thanks to students and staff in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Housed in Kinard Hall, Room 213, Grove Grocery provides free meals and hygiene items for Ole Miss students and employees. The revamp took place late last spring after Grove Grocery organizers approached CME staff to explore ways to enhance the pantry’s capacity to serve the campus community, achieve better productivity in the space and explore inventory control measures.

“I was asked to help improve the physical layout of the racks and goods at the Grove Grocery on campus,” said Eddie Carr, professor of practice in the CME. “I asked for student volunteers, and had six students volunteer to help with the project.”

Carr divided the students into two teams. The first group was a supply chain team that reviewed the entire process of getting food-related goods from grocery stores and collection boxes, transporting those goods to the pantry and stocking them on the shelves. They also looked at the system in place for customers to order food from the pantry.

The second team was a design group that was charged with reorganizing the racks and paths to pick orders of food once they were received.

Carr worked with the Mississippi Surplus Asset Warehouse in Pearl to obtain new racks at a very low cost. Through another CME connection with Masterbilt in New Albany, a refrigerator was donated.

The teams worked with the pantry’s student and staff volunteers and reviewed their progress with Carr on a weekly basis.

“Both groups did outstanding work in optimizing both the supply chain system and the layout,” Carr said. “The students from the CME and the Grove Grocery worked one weekend to implement all of the proposed changes, which yielded a remarkable atmosphere.”

The new space allows for a much better customer experience, said Kate Forster, director of advocacy for UMatter: Student Support and Advocacy.

“Shelving is more accessible and easier to see and reach,” she said. “Space can accommodate increased inventory due to the changes.”

Seeing the completion of the remodeling project was most rewarding, said Tina Truong, a junior chemistry and biochemistry major and Grove Grocery director.

“As last year’s staffing chair, I facilitated volunteering opportunities for students to aid in the renovation,” the Madison native said. “The most memorable moment was most definitely just walking around the newly renovated space with everyone involved in the upgrade.”

The pantry’s student-led fight against hunger and the stigma around food insecurity continues.

“Patrons feel that the space is thoughtful,” Forster said. “We hope this will decrease the stigma of accessing the pantry.”

Grove Grocery has a second location in the George Street House, near the J.D. Williams Library. Both locations of Grove Grocery are open 3-8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Workers wear masks and follow all campus protocols while they serve students.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to staff one of the Grove Grocery locations or to donate can visit