George Mason University hosts the 10th annual 9/11 Day of Service this Friday, September 9, with a focus on food insecurity.
Participants can join in-person and virtual volunteer service projects throughout the day and attend special events including a morning meditation session at 9:30 a.m., a service fair at 11 a.m., and opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. in the Hub ballroom.
Mason’s Patriot Pantry, operated by the Student Support and Advocacy Center, is the featured partner.
The Patriot Pantry began in 2014 as a student-led pop-up shop to address student food insecurity. After years of successful operation, it was formalized and integrated into university operations in 2016. Housed in SUB I, Room 3011, the pantry is now the primary resource for students experiencing food insecurity.
Food insecurity means someone lacks consistent access to the food they need to be active and healthy, due to a lack of financial resources, according to the USDA. Between 2018 and 2021, 36% of Mason students indicated they were food insecure, according to research as part of College of Science professor Dann Sklarew’s Environmental Science and Policy 480 Sustainability in Action courses.
Students can request food and hygiene products from the Patriot Pantry through an online order form and pick up their items at the pantry.
In the past four academic years, the number of unique students served by the Patriot Pantry grew by 362%. From the 2020-21 to the 2021-22 academic year, it grew by 90 percent, according to data provided by the Patriot Pantry. During the same year, the Patriot Pantry helped 453 student users and distributed 14,295 pounds of food and supplies (valued at $23,872.65).
Other volunteer opportunities include the Innovation Food Forest, Green Studio, Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden, a waste audit at a pilot compost site, as well as projects connected with Mason Chooses Kindness, the Fairfax Humane Society, and Women Giving Back. There’s also the option to participate in a virtual or in-person 5K: the Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K Race.