It’s not just seniors that need help with meals; it’s their pets too.
It’s a message that is shared by the Council for Older Adults Meals On Wheels program, the Banfield Charitable Trust and the Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park.
Together, the three groups are making sure that Delaware County seniors and their pets are receiving the nutrition they need.
“(Seniors) may be home-bound and may not see a lot of people throughout the day, but they’ve got their pets and they’ve got their companionship,” said Toni Dodge, manager of the council’s Nutrition Program that runs Meals On Wheels for Delaware County.
The program just received a $1,900 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, a national non-profit group out of Portland, Ore., that focuses on keeping pets in their homes. The grant will be used to assist Meals On Wheels to purchase pet food, water bowls, pet supplies and mileage paid to Meals On Wheels drivers for delivery. There are two grant cycles each year, with a $2,500 maximum grant amount per cycle based on the number of pets and seniors served by the Meals On Wheels applicant program.
Dodge estimated that roughly one-third to half of the 350 to 375 seniors in Delaware County served by Meals On Wheels on a daily basis have pets in the home.
It’s a need the Banfield Charitable Trust saw immediately.
“We started the program in 2007 when we discovered that many Meals On Wheels program customers are sharing their meals with their pets,” said Banfield Charitable Trust executive director and CEO Dianne McGill. “We aim to do something about it.”
Likewise, Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park, a fundraising group for the dog park located at Alum Creek State Park, partnered with the county’s Meals On Wheels program in 2007 to collect everything from dog and cat food to toys and kitty litter.
Ann Wennberg, president of the Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park and a dietitian said the all-volunteer group adopted the county Meals On Wheels program because of the need to keep pets in the home with their owners, and by collecting donations, as the group will do again this today and Sunday, they help make that possible.
“We know that their pets are really really important to them,” she said. “They provide support – for some people it’s a reason to get out of bed – and they provide love for some people who need extra love.”
Wennberg said as a dietitian, she sees another aspect to donating to the pets of Meals On Wheels patrons.
“The other thing we know is for people who receive Meals On Wheels is these people don’t have enough for their pets and they will share their meals with their pets,” she said. “And it’s a lose-lose. The pets are getting food they shouldn’t eat and the person is not getting enough nutrition.”
When Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park held their holiday pet food drive last year, the group took in enough donations to fill two vans, Wennberg said. The group splits the donations between Meals On Wheels and a group call Hospets in Marysville that works to provide pet care to those on hospice services or other seniors who need pet care help.
“Our community is just so generous and giving and support, it’s overwhelming,” Wennberg said. “It just brings out the best in everybody.”
She said despite the snowy weather, Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park intend on holding the food drive this weekend at the dog park, 3993 Hollenback Rd., Lewis Center. Donations will be accepted 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Dodge said the help given to the seniors and the pets is not just nutritional but also helps the seniors socially.
“They may be home bound and may not see a lot of people throughout the day, but they’ve got their pets and they’ve got their companionship,” she said. “(Through donations) we’ve been able to expand the program and keep a continuing supply of dog and cat food as well.”
For more information on the Council for Older Adults Meals On Wheels, contact Dodge at 740-363-6677. Information on Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park can be found at www.alumcreekdogpark.com, and information on the Banfield Charitable Trust can be found www.banfieldcharitabletrust.org.