Person holding a bag shopping for groceries.

Employee Basic Needs Initiative

Across the UC system, basic needs of employees has been largely unexplored; this project aims to examine food and housing insecurity that the UC Davis workforce may face.


While many basic needs initiatives and programs are accessible to adults outside of the workplace, a group of dedicated staff and academics wondered whether the workplace could be an ideal place to support the basic needs of the UC workforce.

In Fall 2020, a systemwide UC Staff Food Insecurity work group was established with the goal of addressing food and housing insecurity among UC employees. The work group has invited various student basic needs coordinators to learn about their unique efforts and created a needs assessment on which all campuses collaborated.

To date, no survey addressing food or housing insecurity among employees has been conducted at the UC systemwide level. Thus, available quantitative data is sparse. Two studies inform the potential impact of this work at UC Davis:

1. A 2016 study conducted by Occidental College revealed that more than two-thirds of UC’s clerical, administration and support employees struggle to put adequate food on the table and are considered food insecure according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture definition. One quarter of UC employees face low food security and 45% face very low food security (Food Security Among University of California Employees, 2016).

2. In 2020, UC Berkeley surveyed custodial and dining staff in their Residential and Student Service Program. Among custodial staff (n = 47), nearly 28% faced low food security, 35% faced very low food security and more than 70% faced housing insecurity. Among dining staff (n = 81), 27% faced low food security, 56% faced very low food security, and 83% faced housing insecurity.


This initiative proposes to:

  • Learn best practices at comparable university and medical centers through literature and informational interviews with basic needs coordinators
  • Conduct a needs assessment by utilizing the existing systemwide survey, and customizing it to UC Davis’ needs via consultation with academics whose expertise lies in food security
  • Determine options, costs and feasibility of a physical pantry pilot

The success of this project will rely on forming partnerships with campus experts, including academics and Aggie Compass. At various points in the project, the project team will connect with colleagues at other UC campuses and large universities to learn about successes and challenges faced.

Opportunities for Involvement: 

No opportunities available at this time.

Recent Milestones:

The project team has hired a student assistant and hopes to conduct focus groups in Spring 2024.

Project Lead(s):

Stacey Brezing
Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being

Connie Tan
Program Coordinator
Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being

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