OVER 600 STUDENTS USE THE PANTRY WEEKLY FOR FOOD AND HYGIENIC SUPPLIES
By Gemma Carretta, Staff Writer and Fareeha Rehman, Co-editor-in-chief
Mason’s diversity includes students from upper, middle, and lower economic classes. According to a New York Times study of Mason’s class of 2013, 4.1 percent of Mason students come from families that make $20,000 per year or less. Patriot Pantry is an extra support system on-campus for these students.
Patriot Pantry is run and managed by student volunteers in conjunction with Mason’s Student Support and Advocacy Center to supply basic necessities like food, clothing, toiletries, and school supplies.
“We try to get as close as we can to offer them all the possible things they might need on a day-to-day basis to be healthy and feel comfortable and safe” said Noah Shoates, a student director at Patriot Pantry.
Students can schedule an appointment to receive up to 25.2 lbs of necessities.
“That’s the average amount of goods people go through a week […] most of the time people honestly don’t even hit that [limit] because we’re straying from canned foods, the typical items we have are a bit lighter.” said Shoates.
The pantry, located in SUB 1 room 3011, was stocked with ramen and canned food at the time of Fourth Estate’s visit, but they are looking for higher-quality donations.
Shoates added “shelf-stable meals are our biggest focus,” such as quinoa bowls, Tasty Bite meals, and Seeds of Change rice. “If you were hungry, what would you actually eat from your pantry?”
Patriot Pantry also raises awareness about food insecurity and homelessness within the Mason student population, however homeless students are only a portion of the students that need their services.
Some students are “able to make ends meet for housing but they don’t have enough disposable income, and various circumstances come up to make it harder to get food on a consistent basis,” said Shoates.
In addition to food donations, Patriot Pantry is looking for donations of hygienic needs such as tampons, shaving equipment, and laundry detergent. Shoates says that students sometimes have to prioritize food over these necessities.
He says visitors always say things like “I’m so glad you have toilet paper, I’m always out and I don’t know what to do.”
According to Shoates, many students see Patriot Pantry as a judgement-free place to vent. To create an appointment, students can go to Patriotpantry.mypaysimple.com. If you want to support Patriot Pantry, you can find more information about the FILL THE PANTRY collection drive in the sidebar.
Photo Courtesy of Allie Thompson