Smart Sacks


More than 35% of Montgomery county 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.

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

Smart Sacks started with the distribution of 500 backpacks full of food in 2005, its first year. Today, when schools are open, our program operates in nearly 60 elementary schools and feeds over 3,100 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. 

Smart Sacks during the COVID-19 Pandemic

When schools closed in the middle of March 2020, we quickly adapted our Smart Sacks program. By collaborating with MCPS, we were distributing twice as many weekend bags to school-aged children and their families each week at locations across the county. 

Help us continue the legacy of Karen Goldberg by ending childhood hunger. In 2005, Manna partnered with Sodexo, Whole Foods Market, and the Montgomery County Public School system to create Smart Sacks, a program unlike any other in the county. We renamed the program the Karen Goldberg Smart Sacks Program to honor the memory of Karen, the warm, selfless woman and fierce food advocate who directed the program before losing her valiant fight against cancer. 

We salute our many community partners for sponsoring portions of the Smart Sacks program. If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a Smart Sacks sponsor or partner organization, please contact priya@mannafood.org.