The NMU Cat Packs Program strives to reduce childhood hunger in Marquette County through the distribution of health-conscious food packages. These packages are constructed by volunteers and community members, then distributed to approximately 70 children at North Star Academy. With the packing and store facilities supplied by the Salvation Army, monetary funds are used explicitly to purchase food. NMU Cat Packs will implement its third year beginning in September 2017. Although we have continued to grow as an organization, further financial stability would allow the program to strengthen its impact in the Marquette County community. We hope to expand our program to increase the amount of food in the packages and eventually increase the number of packs we are able to give out each week.
• The NMU Cat Packs program strives to reduce childhood hunger in the Marquette area by providing North Star students healthy meals over the weekends and holidays. North Star Academy’s students live in Marquette, Negaunee, Ishpeming, Gwinn, Munising, and KI Sawyer. Some of these areas, particularly Gwinn and KI Sawyer, are considered food deserts, or geographical areas where affordable and nutrient dense foods are difficult to obtain. Food deserts are particularly impactful for community members who do not have access to an automobile. Students who have received Cat Packs have stated that the healthy food packages over the weekend help to reduce their hunger-related anxiety. Having their basic needs met allows kids to focus more on their academic and personal development goals. This is especially important as diet is linked to one’s learning capacities, concentration, attention span, sleeping habits, intelligence, and psychological behaviors. We are working on obtaining continued funding and in-kind food donations through soliciting location businesses, granting foundations and large corporations.