An increasing number of Meals on Wheels programs are helping qualified lower income seniors and the disabled feed their pets, including cats and dogs. While they may not operate in every town yet, a number of partnerships have been formed between the program for the elderly and pet groups across the country.
It all started when many Meals on Wheels volunteers and drivers noticed a growing number of senior or homebound clients giving their food or meals away to their pets. So for example, maybe a driver was delivering a lunch to a member and they learned through the visit that the individual was turning around and giving either a portion or maybe all of their meal to their furry friends. It is all too common for low-income seniors or people with disabilities to feed their cats or dogs instead of themselves.
Once this became more obvious, many of the non-profits and charities that run the Meals on Wheels programs started working with shelters and other pet groups to add free pet food to their meal delivery services. Now the programs have continued to grow in scope and popularity. Since now their pets are getting some type of meal, this has allowed seniors to begin eating better, worrying less about feeding their animals, and staying healthier.
Pets are so important to people, especially the homebound. They can help people smile, combat depression, help them exercise and assist with overcoming grief. Animals provide companionship and love too many people. It is very important for the senior client to be able to take care of and feed their pets, and this is one of the goals on many Meal on Wheels organizations.
While there are income levels in place, those seniors or low income households that qualify for Meals on Wheels or similar programs are in general almost always eligible for a free pet food program. Some of the key organizations that contribute to the service are LifeCare Alliance, Salvation Army, AniMeals, Catholic Charities, and many others.
While Meals on Wheels is just one of the many organizations that is involved in serving people who are disabled, poor or elderly, it does have extensive reach. The organization has teamed up with and partners with thousands of independently run pet partners in all states.
What happens is that the partner pet groups or animal shelters will take many of the steps to run the program themselves. They will solicit, pick up the pet food, pack and get the chow to either Meals on Wheels or some other agency that donates the food. In some cases, the agencies that are involved in this activity also take pet food to senior centers, nursing homes or local community centers.
The program may have donated dry food, cookies, treats and maybe even cans of wet food for dogs and cats. One of the biggest challenges of these programs is on getting donations from the community.
Some of the shelters and non-profit groups offering free pet food programs nationwide have gotten a boost from Banfield Charitable Trust grants. The agency has given funding to social service departments and works with groups such as LifeSpan Resources. They offer information and assistance to seniors and the disabled and the homebound.
While the programs are still not available in all states, the number of Meals on Wheels agencies and charities that offer free pet food is expanding. To see if the service is available in your area, there are a few different places to try. Call a local Agency on aging office, which generally have extensive information on many resources for the elderly. Other places to call can include a Salvation Army center, Catholic Charities or a local community action agency. These are some of the non-profits that may have information on free cat or dog food and other supplies.
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