MS Student Council

Welcome to the Middle School Student Council page.  

MARSP Grant Proposal-2017

Portager Pride Pack Program

The Portager Pride Packs started seven years ago with the middle school student council after reading an article in People Magazine about the national organization Blessings in a Backpack.  Blessings in a Backpack focuses on providing food for the weekend to K-5th grade students, but we felt the need extended to older students and their families as well.  There are many causes for this, parents may be working and not at home to provide food, children are homeless, surfing from one friend's couch to another, or simply the cost is too great to meet everyone's needs.  And, often it is believed that older children can "figure it" out for themselves.  Of the 45 total students that benefit from the program, 20 are between kindergarten and 5th grade; 20 students are in grades 6-12.  We wanted the program to be able to include any student and family in need.  Through the Portager Pride Pack program and the middle school student council, Onekama School is seeking to make conditions better for students in our community who do not have their basic needs being met at home. 

Each year I work with the school administration to identify families in need within our community.  This year we provide packs to about 20 anonymous families every other week.  Each September we fill the backpacks with school supplies to help students begin the year with the necessary tools to become successful.  During the rest of the year, we pack meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and personal hygiene products (such as toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, tampons, etc).  We believe that if the students are clean and well fed, they will be more successful in school.  Our objective is to provide support through school supplies, food, and hygiene products for any family in need at least bi-monthly.   

For the students that participate in the program we have noticed three areas in which the students have benefited from this program.  First, school performance has risen on standardized tests as well as informal assessments in class.  Second, attendance has also improved for them, which leads to an increased ability to be more successful in school.  Third, students are demonstrating social skills, which lead to higher confidence and academic performance.  According to The Blessings in a Backpack website, our findings are further supported by their studies.  Of those that participate, 60% do not get in trouble as much, 59% find it easier to learn in school, 78% feel cared for by their community, and finally 71% feel they are helping their family.  Recipients of our program participated in a survey. These are the results:

o   100% of recipients said the Portager Pride Pack program offers healthy options and helps their family.

o   60% said the program helps the family make their own healthy choices.  One respondent said, “The portager pride packs incouraged my family to pick better choices. For instance when we saw what was in the pack we saw that maybe we needed better food.”

o   In response to the question, “Please share any information on how your health has improved since the start of the year.”  One participant wrote: “With the food they give us it helps us get through the week and provide us food we didn’t have. They help us to be able to eat.” And another commented,  “I sleep better at night and have more energy throughout the day.”  Because of these packs, students are coming to school having had healthy meals at home and are able to concentrate better during the day.

The student council members were also asked to participate in a separate survey.  The results show growth of knowledge in healthy eating. 

o   When asked if the students’ participation has helped them become more healthy at home, one replied, “It has shown me what kind of healthy foods out there and it also shown me that there are tons of calories in foods.”  Another said, “I didn’t believe there were whole wheat noodles!”

o   In response to “How do you choose healthy food for the program?” one student wrote “We pack healthy food for the people to bring home and we are very careful about our choices to make sure it’s a good healthy choice.”  Another said, “We look for whole wheat options, and more natural based foods instead of overly processed foods. When we go shopping we look for healthy products to put in the bags.”  One replied, “I look for the protein and the sugar”  And yet another, “We look at the ingredients and if it has anything bad in it, if it is bad for the kids then we rethink about what is a better food choice.” 

For the purpose of this grant proposal, student council members would get to experience the responsibilities relating to selecting healthy items and budgeting finances within a real world setting. Throughout the year, student council members are responsible for shopping for the food at our local Meijer.  They are instructed to find healthy selections at the cheapest prices available.  We try to give an assortment of food each time, so we include breakfast items (i.e., oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, pancake mix), dinner meals for the family and kids (i.e., pasta & sauce, soups, fruits, vegetables, macaroni & cheese, ravioli), snacks (i.e., pretzels, fruits, nuts, tuna and crackers), and we always try to include something fun (i.e., cake mix/frosting, brownie mix, cookies-oatmeal and raisin).  Whenever possible we select whole-wheat or whole-grain options.  While shopping students are required to practice their math skills in determining which brand/size is the best price (i.e., "If this box of noodles is 8oz and it is on sale for 0.89, but this other brand is 12 oz and costs 1.29, which is the better deal?").  In the past we have had a family that was severely diabetic and the students researched which foods are best for their situation.  Students then purchased those items and packed the bag. 

We rely on the efforts of the middle school student council members and myself (the advisor to the group) to guarantee the success of the program through donating our time and fundraising.  Thank you.


This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Healthy Youth and Healthy Seniors Fund and the Homelessness Prevention Fund of the Manistee County Community Foundation.

The Manistee County Community Foundation was created in 1987 to improve the quality of life for Manistee County residents.  A publicly-supported community endowment, the Foundation receives and manages contributions from hundreds of community citizens and organizations who are committed to the future of Manistee County.
Mary Bergren,
Jan 18, 2018, 10:21 AM