Students petition for school to donate unused meal plans

Sophomore Yara El Mowafy started a petition to donate unused meal plans to students in need in August of 2012 (photo courtesy of Yara El Mowafy).
Sophomore Yara El Mowafy started a petition to donate unused meal plans to students in need in August of 2012 (photo courtesy of Yara El Mowafy).

A program is in the works that will allow George Mason University students to redistribute a percentage of their unused meal plans to homeless students on campus.

The program, called Patriot 2 Patriot, proposes that unused money from pre-paid meal plans be redistributed into a university fund. Only students who prove financial need in compliance with the Financial Aid Office policy will be able to utilize the funds.

In August of 2012, sophomore Yara El Mowafy created the petition. Since its beginning, the petition has collected over 2,000 signatures, and Mowafy remains diligent in her efforts to make her proposal a reality.

“I have a concern that not all students at Mason have equal access to the same resources,” El Mowafy said, “and through this program the Mason community will have the opportunity help each other.”

According to El Mowafy, the program proposal has been presented to officials in many university departments including Auxiliary Enterprises, University Life, Mason Dining and Student Health Services. Next, the petition must undergo a vote in the Student Senate.

Student Government President Alex Williams said the proposal needs to receive at least a 51 percent majority vote in the Student Senate to gain student government support.

Williams said he will discuss the proposal with Rose Pascarell, vice president of University Life, on March 20. Once University Life has laid out the program’s official details, student government will vote on it.

Mark Kraner, executive director for campus retail operations, said Auxiliary Enterprises won’t comment on the topic until it moves to student government.

The proposal credits Mason Money Manager/Card Services Coordinator Laura Callahan for the statistic that, on average, 25 percent of Traditional meal plans and seven percent of Block meal plans are unconsumed.

The Patriot 2 Patriot program will give students and faculty the option to opt-in to the program when registering for a meal plan. Those who join the program will have a percentage of their unused meal plans re-funneled into a fund to assist students with food insecurities. The fund will be run by the Mason Card Office.

The program will work slightly differently with each meal plan. For Traditional meal plans, a percentage of unused weekly meals will be automatically redistributed into the fund each week. For Block meal plans, Freedom Funds and Bonus Funds, a percentage of the total unused funds will be redistributed into the fund at the end of each semester or when they expire.

Jordan Bivings is a junior at Mason who supports Patriot 2 Patriot’s cause. Bivings joined El Mowafy’s efforts in implementing the proposal last semester. The two have been working together this semester in advocating for the program. The two have been working within the student organizations Mason Meals, which Bivings started, and Oxfam America at GMU, which El Mowafy started.

“I have been working on making the mason dining meal plan system more efficient and beneficial to the homeless population and to students that cannot afford to eat on campus since my freshman year,” Bivings said in an email. “Not only will this benefit our Mason community, but it will bring us closer together.”

The petition for the Patriot 2 Patriot program will be available to sign at Johnson Center kiosks from 11 a.m. to noon on March 25 and 27, with more kiosk dates in late April and May. More information about the petition can be found by contacting Mason Meals.

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (23 votes)
Student Media Group: