The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Smart Knapsack program collects for kids in Gogebic County


February 21, 2018

MEGAN MARTELL, left, and Ashley Dennis, holding an empty Eat Smart Knapsack on the right, stand before a wall locker of food that will be given to needy kids through the four school districts in Gogebic County. The Eat Smart Knapsack program needs community donations to provide kids who may rely on their school lunch for food with healthy food and snacks during spring and winter.


Bessemer - The Eat Smart Knapsacks program, sponsored by the Great Start Collaborative and Michigan State University Extension office in Bessemer, is gathering healthy food and snacks in preparation of providing "knapsacks" to kids in all four Gogebic County public schools -from Watersmeet to Ironwood. Some kids rely on school meals to provide much of their healthy caloric intake, and on breaks may be left without equally nutritious options.

The program provides nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods during the winter and spring school breaks. During this past winter break, the program provided 81 bags for 76 families, serving over 160 kids between the four school districts. Ashley Dennis said a kid asked if he could get his bag refilled immediately, instead of waiting until spring, when they were turning in the reusable bags.

The schools generate the list of kids, keeping the receivers anonymous. To help keep the kids from being shamed, the MSU-E will deliver the stuffed bags on the Wednesday before spring break, so the kids have a couple of days to get their bag and remain anonymous.

Megan Martell, nutrition program instructor, and Dennis, the 4-H program coordinator, said they need:

-Nature Valley Granola Bars,

-Peanut Butter,

-Low sugar jams or jelly,

-Canned vegetables,

-Fruit cups (packed in 100 percent fruit juice),

-Microwaveable popcorn,

-Instant oatmeal packets,

-Canned tunafish,

-Canned chicken,

-And canned beans.

The MSU-E maintains an Amazon Wishlist at or donations can be dropped off at the MSU-E office at 500 N. Moore Street. Tax-deductible cash donations can be made to the Gogebic County 4-H. For additional questions, contact Martell at 906-663-4045. Spring break is scheduled for the first week of April, so donations are necessary by the week prior.


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