Meals on Wheels now helps some seniors get donated food for their pets. For many seniors, a pet is a lifeline, providing companionship to ward off loneliness and depression, and promoting physical and mental activity. And of course, people love their pets, so much so that nonprofit groups that help seniors in need found that some seniors were giving donated food meant for them to their pets. The groups have responded by arranging for pet food to be included with deliveries
The arrangement comes from a partnership between organizations that help low-income seniors and pet groups around the country. Meals on Wheels is one of the organizations involved, and they have cooperated with a number of independent pet groups in several different states.The pet groups ask volunteers to collect donated pet food and bring it to Meals on Wheels or another agency that delivers food. The pet food is delivered along with regular deliveries to seniors who need it. The groups also deliver to community centers, nursing homes and senior centers. The organizations said that seniors who are eligible for Meals on Wheels or similar programs usually qualify for the free pet food deliveries as well.
The groups said that pets are extremely important for seniors, and that it is not unusual for low-income seniors or people with disabilities to feed their pets before themselves, sacrificing their own health.
One of the organizations, LifeCare Alliance, began a pet food delivery program five years ago in Columbus, Ohio and now brings donated food to over 1,000 animals per month. The group started the program after learning that many of the people they served were extremely isolated, with 70 percent reporting that they did not see anyone other than a Meals on Wheels driver each week.
Another pet food delivery program, AniMeals, began in 1984 in San Diego, among the first in the nation. The group delivers food to 250 pets each month, relying on 40 volunteers to collect 3,200 cans of wet food and about 3,000 pounds of dry food each month. The group has bins in pet stores for customers to donate food for the program.