Evan Dribbon, a Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Member, is serving at his alma mater–James Madison University (JMU)–where he addresses food insecurity among low-income students by increasing the capacity of the campus food pantry. JMU’s food pantry offers students a variety of things, such as non-perishable items, fresh produce, hygiene products, school supplies, and more. To build capacity for the food pantry, Evan plans to broaden the variety of products available, increase the pantry’s funds through grants and campus fundraisers, and boost the pantry’s social media presence. He also aims to educate students about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, to reduce the stigma associated with utilizing the food pantry, and even expand the pantry to a third campus location.
Although he is only a few months into his service year, Evan has made significant strides with his project goals. To increase the pantry’s funds and reduce the stigma associated with the pantry, Evan has begun organizing a Food Donation competition with other colleges in the Sun Belt Conference. These schools will compete in a friendly competition to see who can collect the highest amount of food and monetary donations. Ideally, this competition will kick off in January to coincide with the Sun Belt Conference’s basketball season, and the winning school will be rewarded with bragging rights for the rest of the season.
Evan has also coordinated weekly pickups from a multinational food corporation, Danone, to get various non-dairy milks for the pantry. One of the most requested items for the food pantry is non-dairy milk, and with these pickups, the pantry now has a large supply of coconut milk, almond milk, and other non-dairy options. Along with these weekly pickups, Evan also organizes donations from a local grocery store interested in donating fruits and vegetables, spices, cleaning supplies, fresh tortillas, and other shelf-stable pantry items.
In addition, Evan is actively working to educate JMU students about SNAP through informative social media posts. These posts will cover SNAP eligibility for college students, the application process, and what to expect after applying. Along with these posts, Evan has organized SNAP training for JMU faculty and staff. Furthermore, with Evan’s help, the pantry has found space for its third on-campus location and is on track to open by the semester’s end.
In his free time, Evan enjoys playing the guitar, biking, exploring nature, and spending quality time with friends and family. After his service year with AmeriCorps, he plans to join the Peace Corps to continue to create positive change and to work on sustainability. His long-term goal is to work for the government and possibly work his way into the Foreign Service.