The Northern Michigan University organization, Cat Packs, recently won the Innovations in Community Impact Award from Michigan Campus Compact. The award recognizes innovative approaches to problem solving with measured community impact, as led by a campus body and one or more community partners.
Cat Packs is a non-profit program that began in the fall of 2014. Its goal was to help alleviate childhood hunger in the Marquette community while getting college students more involved in the community. Cat Packs provides healthy, well-balanced weekend meal packs for 70 K-12 students at North Star Academy who are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.
Each pack includes between five to seven meals, ensuring the students are getting the nutrition they need while not at school. The program has also provided information packets for students and their families addressing affordable food sources and nutrition.
Cat Packs is comprised of university and community volunteers. Packing food every Thursday has become concise and structured, with student coordinators able to create weekly menus, organize food, recruit volunteers and oversee systems.