Aspen Bass, BS Community Health Student, Talks the Patriot Pantry, Her Experience, and How Others Can Help
May 4, 2020
By Nicole Cummings
Aspen Bass, a senior in the Department of Global and Community Health, has been a volunteer at the Patriot Pantry for the past two years. As a GCH student, she wanted to gain hands-on experience working with public health issues that concerned her immediate community.
Patriot Pantry, formerly known as the Pop-Up Pantry, was created in December 2014 by student Yara Mowafy and University Life Director of Technology Integration Michael Galvin. The pantry provides non-perishable food and other items to Mason students experiencing financial difficulties.
Before finding the opportunity on Handshake, Bass states that she was unaware of the number of students experiencing food insecurity at Mason and that a food security organization existed on campus.
In light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, Bass and other students are unable to work at the pantry, as it is currently closed. However, they will be giving out Walmart gift cards through the police department to students who were on their spring 2020 list.
“I have seen students break down in tears because they are so elated that there are resources available to help them. Impacting people directly is so impactful, heartwarming and humbling. You can tell people really need our support which is why we trust the honor code,” Bass explained, when asked why others should donate to the pantry and how it impacts the Mason community.
Bass explains that the pantry does not require any paperwork or evidence of food insecurity; they solely operate on the honor system. If a student comes in and is enrolled in at least one credit, then they are eligible to get 30lbs of items that may include non-perishable food and toiletries, including feminine hygiene products. Students can come in once a week and take up to 30 lbs. The pantry was able to help more than 90 students during the fall 2019 semester.
Many of the donations that keep the pantry running come from Mason alumni, staff, local churches and other community organizations. The pantry hopes to raise awareness at Mason and the local community in order to help more students. You can often find Patriot Pantry staff at the Kiosks in the Johnson Center, or you can reach out through the website to learn more or donate today.
“As a student who works in the Patriot Pantry at Mason, I see firsthand how one donation can make the difference between a Patriot thriving, and the possibility of giving up their education entirely,” Bass explains. “Now more than ever, Mason students are relying on financial support for the basic necessities.”
It was awareness of this need among fellow students and the impact that even small donations from the Mason community could have on students that led Bass to help with fundraising efforts for Mason’s Giving Day 2020.
This year, due to the increased need with the COVID-19 pandemic, Mason focused all of their efforts on raising money for students in financial crisis through the University Life Student Emergency Assistance Fund. This fund has been a significant financial resource to students during COVID-19. Find out if you are eligible or get involved to help others in need through the Student Emergency Assistance Fund.