Wheeling meals for man’s best friend
For many seniors, a pet is a beloved family member, but stretching a limited income to provide food and other necessities for an animal can be an overwhelming burden. Throughout its 50 years in operation, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels volunteers have often reported concerns that many homebound seniors “share” their Meals on Wheels with their furry friends.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed a real need for a pet food delivery service. Changes in accessibility to food and transportation during the early months of the pandemic made it even more difficult for homebound seniors to get the supplies they needed for themselves and their pets.
Sympathetic toward the challenges its meal recipients were facing, DFMOW applied for and received $2,500 in grant funding from PetSmart Charities through its partnership with Meals on Wheels America. The funds were used to launch DFMOW’s Pet Meals and More program in September.
“It is generally agreed that older adults benefit tremendously from owning pets,” said Debra Pacos, Executive Director. “However, many seniors reach a point where they are no longer physically capable of providing for themselves — let alone their pets. This program will help keep dozens of pets and pet owners happy and healthy.”
When Nestle-Purina PetCare learned about the program, the company donated over 275 pounds of pet food, which greatly enhanced DFMOW’s ability to provide meals for more than 30 client pets. In December, DFMOW was also awarded a grant from the company. The funds will be used to sustain the program by bolstering food supplies for several more months.
In the future DFMOW hopes to also provide assistance for preventive veterinary care, including flea and tick and heartworm medications. But for now, the agency is concentrating its funds and its efforts towards increasing food security for area seniors and their pets.
“It is our mission to ensure that no senior ever goes hungry,” Pacos remarked. “Now seniors can enjoy their meals without guilt, since their furry companions have their own supply.”
A proud United Way Community Partner, Meals on Wheels also receives support for its programs and operations from the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, RSVP, area foundations, service organizations, churches and individual donors.
Volunteers are desperately needed. One hour per week is all it takes to provide life-giving assistance to area residents whose age or disability make it difficult to shop for or prepare meals. Please phone Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels at 716-366-8822, or email to email@example.com for more information about Meals on Wheels’ volunteer program.