Members of Mason Meals make peanut butter sandwiches for the poor. The new club looks to donate leftover meal plans to those suffering from poverty in the Fairfax area. Photo by Grace Knight

Members of Mason Meals, a new club on campus, are actively working hand-in-hand with Mason Dining to end hunger in the Fairfax area by donating students’ leftover meal plans at the end of each semester.

“I noticed a lot of the food waste Mason goes through,” said sophomore Jordan Bivings, president and founder of Mason Meals. “If we can waste as much as we do, we can give as much as we do.”

Mason Meals started as a cornerstone project for Bivings. Her class had the opportunity to work with FACETS, a Fairfax County organization that helps families and individuals suffering from the effects of poverty. Based on the feedback Bivings and her classmates received, Mason Meals was created in May.

Bivings said she had no trouble assembling a group of students who wanted to make an impact as much as she did; she even decided to give the title and duties of vice president to two students instead of the traditional one.

“They were the main two people who were really hands-on in organizing this. They are extremely passionate about Mason Meals and working with FACETS,” Bivings said.

One of the vice presidents, sophomore integrative studies major Andrew Lyon, lived on the same floor as Bivings last school year, coincidentally along with most of their executive board.

“Within a short period of time our floor grew into an extremely tight-knit family,” Lyon said. “So when Jordan presented me and most of the floor with this amazing opportunity, we jumped at the chance.”
Their first drive was organized in just two weeks by setting up a table at Southside and reserving a kiosk in the Johnson Center. They collected close to a thousand canned goods, fruits and other items.

Lyon said this process of becoming a student organization, which is not yet complete, has humbled him, inspired him and helped him to realize how fortunate he is.

“Learning about the lives of the clients and the problems they face every day really shows how minuscule the issues in my life are,” he said.

For Bivings, who lost her home to a fire when she was five, the creation of this organization is more personal than anything. It stemmed from her understanding of what it’s like to be without.

“I understand kids when they go to school without a lunch sometimes, and it’s hard. To go without food is completely different than going to school without the most stylish clothes or the coolest lunch box or the coolest backpack,” Bivings said. “I know it’s tough for kids when you have to explain to people why your parents can’t pack you a lunch.”

To pay it forward, Bivings, along with her team of about 10 members, currently has two ongoing projects. The first is Tummy Talk, which is held every other Friday. They enlist Mason students to make sandwiches and then travel to D.C. to donate those sandwiches and water bottles to anyone who is in need. In addition, they spend time talking to the people they meet.

Mason Meals also has designated collection days. Each Thursday, students can donate their meal plan card swipes to get sandwiches from La Patisserie in the Johnson Center or use their Freedom Funds to buy food from other campus restaurants. These donations directly benefit FACETS.

Bivings is actively donating as well. “Every week, I calculate [what] I’ve eaten, and I swipe [my Mason ID] for every meal I’ve eaten,” Bivings said. Tummy Talk funds go towards bread, meat and other supplies used to make the sandwiches, and comes out of her own pocket.

Mason Meals’s short-term goals include becoming an officially recognized student organization and acquiring a machine that enables students to make donations by swiping their Mason IDs to access their Mason Money.

Its long-term goal is expansion of the organization to other campuses in the area and across the nation. Bivings has already been in touch with peers from Howard University and the University of Maryland at College Park.

Both Bivings and Lyon agree that Mason Meals provides any Mason student with the opportunity to gain a real sense of purpose here on campus.

“Anyone who joins Mason Meals will be given ample opportunities to aid us in our efforts, especially as we continue to grow,” Lyon said. “Our projects will become larger and larger.”

Mason Meals can be found on Facebook and reached at