Last Sunday, I was at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City attending a discussion of its Crossroads Community Services Program which supports breakfast for 150-200 New Yorkers three days a week, an overnight shelter and a food pantry. During the question and answer period, an audience member asked the program director, “Where is there a pet food pantry?” and I will admit I wasn’t sure. But given the high unemployment data out last week and the dismal job reports in the news, I knew there were still families in need. Since pets are family, I decided to investigate pet food pantries.
In New York City, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is a coalition of non-profit shelters and rescue groups saving the lives of adoptable pets in New York City. Their website lists three groups helping to provide needy New York City pets with food and supplies: Animal Relief Fund, Prince Chunk Foundation and the Food Bank for New York City.
The Food Bank for New York City is heavily involved in providing meals for hungry pets and has presence in all five boroughs. It is just one beneficiary of the PETCO Foundation’s “We Are Family” program. PETCO collects the food and cat litter and their partners use their human food pantries as the distribution site.
This website gives a state by state list of the PETCO stores collecting food and cat litter for pets in need and their food pantry partners. In Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, We Are Family works in partnership with Long Island Cares. The Food Bank for New York City’s West Harlem location has recently received a large donation of pet food from the Iams Company and VCA Charities Pet Program. Registered food pantry members will receive free pet food and some may also receive coupons for pet care from VCA.
Another local New York City organization providing pet food is the Animal Relief Fund (ARF). They are members of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and collect pet food and distribute it through a large number of local human food pantries in the five boroughs and on Long Island via Long Island Cares.
Not exactly a food pantry, but an important provider of food to those in need is Meals On Wheels. Meals On Wheels provides not only food for the home-bound elderly, but companionship as well. Some local Meals On Wheels organizations have a pet feeding program in addition to their senior citizen feeding program. We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) delivers nutritional pet meals along with nutritious human meals. By helping an elderly person feed his/her pet, the senior citizen and their pet can maintain the human companion animal bond critical to the senior’s emotional and physical health.
So how can animal lovers help pets in need?
- Donate money to your local pet food pantry
- Donate pet food or cat litter to an organization that partners with a human food pantry for distribution.
- Volunteer for an organization providing meals to the whole family.
- Start a pet food pantry.
These are only a few ideas. I am sure you readers have many others. Tell us some ideas you may have to help the needy feed their pets.
This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.
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