Providing food for students

Cat Packs aim to curb child hunger

Salvation Army and Marquette Rotary Club volunteers gathered at the Salvation Army in Marquette Thursday afternoon to create packs of meals for 70 children at North Star Academy. Cat Packs' aims to significantly reduce child hunger in Marquette County. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — More than two dozen people met at the Salvation Army in Marquette Thursday afternoon with the sole purpose of making sure that children don’t go hungry.

Cat Packs is a Northern Michigan University-initiated program that works through the Salvation Army to “help address childhood hunger,” explained Jessica Brecht, special events graduate assistant at NMU.

“We sponsor about 70 students from North Star Academy,” said Brecht. Students who are on the free or reduced lunch program at the school can apply to be a part of Cat Packs — named for Wildcats — which provides healthy meals to feed each student on weekends and over holidays.

“We try to include the best bang for the buck, but still keeping in mind healthy items,” said Brecht. Volunteers fill bags with food items like carrots, celery, bread donated from Togo’s, meals like spaghetti and sauce that feed the whole family, granola bars, and fruits, which are donated from Big Boy. “We try to make sure we hit all of the food groups as much as possible,” Brecht said.

Funds for Cat Packs come from grants and donations. Student staff members apply for grants throughout the year and fundraising events are held periodically.

Father Frank Lenz, left, carries a box of bagged vegtables to be packed as snacks. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

Around half of the volunteers present at the pack assembly consisted of Marquette Rotary Club members, who operate under the philosophy that “it feels good to do good,” said the Rev. Frank Lenz, who acts as club president.

The next fundraising event is planned for Feb. 23-24, during the NMU vs. Michigan Tech University hockey game at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

Checks can also be sent directly to the Salvation Army in Marquette, located at 1009 W. Baraga Ave., with a memo indicating use for Cat Packs.

Rachel Oakley can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is roakley@miningjournal.net.