Smart Sacks

The Karen Goldberg Smart Sacks grew immensely under the guidance of its former director, Karen A. Goldberg. Karen was instrumental in spearheading the program’s creation and was an incomparable advocate for hunger relief. In October 2012, Karen passed away after a valiant fight with cancer. In her honor, Manna renamed the program as the Karen Goldberg Smart Sacks Program. Karen’s warmth, selflessness and leadership will forever be missed by those of us at Manna and by countless members of our community.  We salute community partners such as Sodexo, Whole Foods Market and Medstar Montgomery for sponsoring portions of the Smart Sacks program.  Smart Sacks program started in 2005, when Manna partnered with Sodexo, Whole Foods Market and the Montgomery County Public School system to create a program unlike any other in the county.

As little as $5 provides a family a bag full of food.

More than 35% of public school students are eligible for free or reduced meals during the school week. Smart Sacks bridges the gap between Friday and Monday, providing nutritious foods for children and their families who might not have another meal until after the weekend.

Smart Sacks started with the distribution of 500 backpacks full of food in its first year. Today, our program operates in 59 elementary schools and feeds over 2,800 children each week. More than 50 business and community organizations collaborate on behalf of this inspiring program.

Participating students enjoy a nutritious menu, including whole grains, low sodium canned vegetables, lean proteins and healthier snack items. Use of the ingredients provided and sustained healthy eating is encouraged through educational materials included in the Smart Sacks bags throughout the school year.

The benefit of consistent nutrition to a child’s ability to excel in the classroom prompted the creation of this landmark program – and the critical nature of this need is what continues to drive its success. Help us continue the legacy of Karen Goldberg by ending childhood hunger.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a Smart Sacks sponsor or partner organization, please contact karena@mannafood.org.