Pet food is expensive, and so is human food. Plus, pets aren’t supposed to eat human food. So where do you turn if you are a pet parent who needs some assistance paying for food for a pet?
If you are having trouble making ends meet and finding food for yourself or your pet, there are a number of national, state, and regional organizations that exist to help fill this need, including pet food pantries.
What do you need to know about getting pet food from a pantry?
Several of the organizations require some financial documentation to prove the assistance is necessary. Some have rules that say your pet needs to be spayed or neutered. Many pet food pantries are trying to help people and pets in their immediate vicinity, so make sure that you are living in the area they serve.
It's always good to check with the organization to see if you can just show up or if you need to make an appointment. Many times, there are limits to how often you can receive pet food.
For people who have difficulty getting out of their homes, there are some Meals on Wheels programs that will add pet food to their deliveries. Meals on Wheels America is a national partnership with PetSmart Charities that provides grants to organizations that help homebound seniors with pet care costs. They also published a report exploring the barriers older Americans face when it comes to keeping pets healthy.
In Northeast Ohio, local organizations are doing their best to help seniors in need of assistance. For example, the Lake County Council on Aging will provide a monthly supplemental supply of pet food to seniors. "We believe in providing supplemental nutritional support to the pets of our senior home-delivery meal clients because we recognize the importance of their pet in their lives," they write on their website. "Pets provide companionship, joy, and love, as well as a purpose; their pets are their family." The program is always seeking pet food donations to keep seniors’ pantries stocked.
No one should have to go hungry because they are feeding their food to their pets. Not only does it deprive humans of the food they need to stay healthy, but the pets aren’t getting proper nutrition either.
Some food pantries that provide food for people also have pet food on their shelves. These food pantries understand that pets are part of the family, too.
Meals on Wheels America says that 58% of its home-delivered meal clients live alone. Especially when you live by yourself, pets are family. They provide opportunities for exercise, socializing with other people, and caring for someone. Isolation is bad for our health, so when someone shows up with a food delivery and delivers a nutritious meal for people and pets, everyone wins.
Help Connect Seniors with Resources
There are some great resources out therefor assisting seniors with the cost of pet food and vet care. Some organizations are so aware of the benefits of pets for older folks that they will waive adoption fees and provide free pet food and vet care if they adopt a shelter animal.
Other programs will match senior humans with senior dogs so they can age together.
In Northeast Ohio, more than 112,000 pet parents have difficulty paying for vet bills. One Health Organization’s mission is to help low-income pet parents with the costs of veterinary care. We do that byproviding up to $250 per year to eligible families in the form of Veterinary Care Voucher Debit Cards.
We do it because we believe that pets and people should be able to live happy, healthy lives together.