MARION — More than 2,400 bags of food items were available to Marion Elementary School students in the academic year 2013–2014, and the number will reach 3,500 in the current school year.

The parcels are prepared by the Grub-2-Go organization for all students who sign up for the group’s weekend food program. There are no eligibility requirements for participation.

Grub-2-Go was initiated five years ago when a need was identified in the community to provide food for elementary school children on days they are not in school.

Barbara Darrigan, program coordinator, works with individuals, churches and other groups to raise funds to purchase a variety of foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, cereal, milk, peanut butter, tuna and other protein sources.

Supplies are purchased in bulk and stored at the Marion Food Pantry. Darrigan plans weekly nutritious menus and teams of volunteers gather at the food pantry every Friday morning to assemble and package 108 bags of food items.

The weekend food bags are then delivered to Marion Elementary School for distribution to participating students.

Many educators believe that children whose diet includes adequate protein, fruits and vegetables have better nutritional health resulting in improved school attendance patterns and higher levels of scholastic achievement.

According to Mort Meier, principal of Marion Elementary School and superintendent of Marion Public Schools, the food from the Grub-2-Go program often sustains children for the weekend and is crucial for their health.

“I am grateful and warmed in spirit,” said Meier, “that there are folks who will take their time, energy and resources to donate to the well-being of our students and my staff feels the same way.”

Grub-2-Go received a Michigan Eduction Association “Friend of Education” award for the weekend food distribution program.

The annual cost of food for the program is $10,000. Most of the food and grocery items are purchased in Cadillac at Feeding America which is part of a nationwide network of food banks and food pantries.

“Grub-2-Go happens because of the caring volunteers that help to package the food, the caring donors that give us financial support and also through the support of grants such as the grant received from the Osceola County Community Foundation,” said Darrigan.

“Without the gifts of time and financial support the program couldn’t exist,” she added. “We are fortunate to live in a community that can see the needs of the children and will help where possible to enhance their lives.”

"I think Grub-2-Go is a wonderful project," said volunteer Penny Rice-Lipinski. "I have been blessed with good people in my life and part of life is giving back which is important to me. Doing something good that helps the children's health and helps them do better in school makes me feel good."

To make a tax deductible donation to Grub-2-Go, send a check payable to Osceola Children’s Council, 10791 S. Dickerson Road, McBain, MI, 49657. Include Grub-2-Go on the memo line.

For more information about the program and volunteer opportunities, contact Darrigan at (231) 499-5700.