Packing in nutrition

Local programs recipients of soup donation

MARQUETTE — More soup for you!

That’s the thought behind the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency being the conduit to providing soup to local “backpack” programs for area youth.

Haley Mahr, a nutrition educator at MARESA, said the organization has received funding from the Superior Health Foundation for the program to buy soup from Econo Foods and Super One Foods.

That money is being put to good use.

She said the soup will be put into the hands of youngsters who benefit from seven area backpack programs: Cat Packs, JJ Packs, Patriot Packs, Hematite Power Packs, MPacks, Miner Packs and Paw Packs.

“With those funds we were able to purchase soup to donate to those programs to provide for the kids,” said Mahr, who was on hand to see many soup cans picked up on Wednesday at Econo Foods in Marquette.

The backpack programs help local kids’ nutritional needs.

“The backpacks that are provided, like the MPack programs, are a way to feed children over the weekends when school food isn’t available to them,” Mahr said.

Backpack recipients are in kindergarten through 12th grade, with the number of recipients depending on the school district, she said.

Soup varieties given away on Wednesday, she said, included vegetable, chicken noodle and beef barley.

“We tried to keep it healthy, so we went with Progresso Light,” Mahr said. “We also purchased Healthy Choice in the past.”

The Hematite Power Packs’ Diana Sundberg, along with her husband Jamie, picked up the seven cases of soup from Econo Foods.

There are 120 kids in pre-school through 12th grade in her program, she said.

She believes such backpack programs are important.

“This is huge,” Diana Sundberg said. “This will help me for a month. This will alleviate hundreds of dollars for me for our program.”

She also doesn’t have to worry about the soup going bad, at least for a long while.

“Since this is pretty non-perishable, it holds well,” she said.

For more information on backpack and weekend nutrition programs in the region, visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is