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Dean’s Blog: The Difference Makers: Resolution - Zero Hunger

2022 award recipients
2022 Celebration of Success recipients

Our Fall 2022 semester comes to a close. Exams are finished and grades are submitted, and we can feel our shoulders relax a bit as we wrap up the last few meetings and graduation festivities this week. At our recent Celebration of Success, we acknowledged our good work, calling out award winning efforts to make a true difference in our scientific disciplines, within our Mason Science community, and for those we serve. We have much to celebrate.

As we look to the coming year, there is a topic I’d like to bring forward as you build your 2023 resolutions. The recipient of this year’s Dean’s Impact Award, brought the issue of hunger advocacy to the forefront.

Environmental Science and Policy professor, Dann Sklarew likes to think big and backed up those thoughts with energy and action. Dann definitely exemplifies his department’s name; fostering and leveraging environmental science knowledge to work with Mason and elected officials to establish policies and programs to help resolve one of the world’s biggest problems, unsustainable development.

Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth approached Dann a year ago to co-moderate its “17 Rooms Summit” team addressing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, “No Hunger.” 

Taking that charge to heart, Dann researched and advocated for greater food security for an estimated 12,000 hungry Mason students and helped recruit Mason students and alumni, the Hope Center, and Swipe Out Hunger to advocate for greater food security for those enrolled in any of Virginia’s higher education institutions.

Dann became a co-author of and lead academic advocate for the Virginia Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program (2022 House Bill 629) and contributor to the SNAP access bill (2022 HB 582). He, his student, and Mason alumni partners provided testimony in support of both bills. SCHEV estimated the SNAP bill alone could provide millions of dollars in federal food assistance to thousands of college students at Mason and throughout the Commonwealth. The bill passed the House with nearly 80 percent in favor then recently unanimously passed the Senate.

At the Mason holiday party, President Washington shared a video about the Patriot Pantry Challenge, a charge to the Mason Nation to help stock the GMU Patriot Pantry with 5,000 pounds of non-perishable food and hygiene items between now and February. All donations will support our fellow Patriots who are facing food insecurity.

If each of us contributes, we can reach this important goal. There are many ways to join the challenge:

First, as I am doing now, spread the word and encourage participation. Discuss the effort with coworkers and students. If you are on social media, donate and share with us using #PatriotPantryChallenge and #MasonNation in your post. 

If you are still on campus or throughout the month of January, you can take donations to the Patriot Pantry, SUB I, Room 3011. Place items in the box outside of the Pantry marked “donations.” Make sure to visit the Patriot Pantry web page, to see which items the Pantry specifically needs. We will have food donation drop off boxes at SciTech and in the Dean’s Suite, 3301 Exploratory Hall in January to help us collectively contribute.

If you’re not near the SUB I on our Fairfax campus, there are additional ways to support the Patriot Pantry Challenge. Check the Amazon Wishlist or set up your Amazon Smile shopping account to support the effort. Select “George Mason University Foundation” to make the Patriot Pantry your preferred charity on and with each holiday purchase you make, you’ll contribute a donation to this important effort.

Thank you to those of you who supported the College’s Student Emergency fund during our recent bake sale during our Celebration of Success. We were able to raise more than $1000 to directly support our students in their time of need. If you know someone who would like to help, you can suggest they give online to the “Student Food and Housing Insecurity Fund” at

Each of us in our Mason Science community can do our part to make a difference. And it’s amazing to see what is possible when we collectively focus on important challenges like this. I sincerely appreciate your support and thank you for a great 50th year.

Finally, since this will be my last blog post of 2022, I want to extend my appreciation for all of your contributions to our college and to Mason throughout this year, my wishes for a relaxing holiday with your friends and family, and my excitement for the start of the upcoming year.



Visit the dean's blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.