Meals on Wheels programs in several states have expanded their offerings to include donated pet food for clients’ companion animals, said Jenny Bertolette of the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Volunteers for the program, which provides meals to the disabled, poor and elderly, began seeking donations from shelters and pet organizations after noticing clients were sharing food with their pets. Participating groups solicit and deliver pet food to Meals on Wheels as well as to senior centers and nursing homes. Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.)/The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – If Meals on Wheels didn’t deliver donated dog food, Sherry Scott of San Diego says her golden retriever Tootie would be eating the pasta, riblets and veggie wraps meant for her. But thanks to partnerships between the program for low-income seniors and pet groups across the country, fewer people and pets are going hungry.
After Meals on Wheels volunteers noticed a growing number of clients giving their food away to their furry friends, they started working with shelters and other pet groups to add free pet food to their meal deliveries. Those programs, relying on donations and volunteers, have continued to grow in popularity as seniors began eating better, staying healthier and worrying less about feeding their pets, one group said.
Meals on Wheels is just one organization serving people who are poor, disabled or elderly, but it has a vast reach. It has teamed up with independently run pet partners in several states, but how many isn’t known, said Jenny Bertolette, spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels Association of America in Alexandria, Va.
Partner pet groups will solicit, pick up, pack and get the animal chow to Meals on Wheels or another agency that donates food, volunteers said. Agencies also take pet food to nursing homes, senior centers or community centers.
Those who qualify for Meals on Wheels or similar programs are almost always eligible for a free pet food program.