Donors helped address food insecurity at Mason during Mason Vision Day 2023


Each year the George Mason University community has the opportunity to support a cause that matters to them through Mason Vision Day.

Led by the Office of Annual Giving, Mason Vision Day 2023, held on April 6, highlighted the challenges posed by student food insecurity—which is a growing issue at Mason and at college campuses across the nation. This year, Mason Vision Day raised $290,000 for Mason causes with nearly $90,000 dedicated to student food insecurity.

Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to a sufficient amount of food, which in turn can create other obstacles for students making it difficult for them to focus on their studies and fulfill their potential.

We know that nationally, one-third of college students contend with food insecurity at some point during their collegiate career,” said Rose Pascarell, vice president for University Life at Mason. “We are so appreciative that Mason Vision Day could raise money, and awareness, for this pervasive and persistent problem we know exists on our campuses as well.”

Funds identified for student food insecurity will support campus resources like the Patriot Pantry, which provides students with access to food and hygiene items. Mason Vision Day donations will also help provide meal swipes for students so they can dine with peers, purchase gift cards for local grocery stores, and receive individualized guidance beyond food such as assistance with child care, job placements, mental health and housing.

The concept of a focused Mason Vision Day began in 2020 during the height of the pandemic when the Mason community came together to secure and distribute emergency funds and resources for Mason’s most vulnerable students.

The Patriots Helping Patriots initiative distributed a variety of resources to assist students and families, such as offering access to food, educational materials, and counseling resources. Within eight weeks, Mason’s Alumni Association and Office of Alumni Relations distributed nearly $2 million to aid students with tuition, housing, food, and other emergency needs. The event’s success led to the idea of rallying the Mason community around one vision each year—Mason Vision Day. While Mason Vision Day offers a common focus, it also embraces all philanthropic initiatives on campus, encouraging students, faculty, alumni, and donors to support what matters most to them at Mason.

“Focusing Mason Vision Day on a central initiative offers the opportunity to move the needle and really make a difference in a specific area,” said Trishana E. Bowden, president of the George Mason University Foundation and vice president for advancement and alumni relations. “This is the true meaning of philanthropy—we recognize a need and come together to help one another.”

Mason Vision Day was also supported the Capital Area Food Bank. The food bank is an established anchor of hunger relief infrastructure across the Washington, D.C., region. Through a partnership with Mason to address campus food insecurity, Capital Area Food Bank matched $30,000 of the funds raised on Mason Vision Day through credits in its online food ordering portal.

“The response from our community was terrific,” said Pascarell. “In particular, I’d like to express my appreciation for our work with the Capital Area Food Bank and their generosity in supporting our students. Our growing partnership will make an incredible impact on our university’s ability to provide students the resources they need to be successful.” 

Events like Mason Vision Day 2023 and programs like the Patriot Pantry give students the opportunity to thrive and continue to pursue their dreams.

“George Mason University is a community of caring, compassion, and hope,” Bowden said. “This year, our gifts will have a direct impact on many of our students. I am grateful and honored to be part of this extraordinary community.”

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