Program nourishes the pets of Fayette's homebound seniors

MOW client, Gertrude Nelson, has been receiving meals for herself since August 2001 and has qualified to receive assistance with meals for her six year-old companion. Photo: Rebecca Doyle

To many of Fayette’s homebound seniors, having a pet is a source of companionship and comfort. However, due to financial need or the inability to get out of their home, some seniors struggle to provide food for their pets. “Often, receiving proper nourishment can become a mutual affliction for the pet and pet owner - especially when leaving the house isn’t an option,”says Fayette Senior Services (FSS) Executive Director, Debbie Britt.

Realizing this need, Ginnie Plunkett, the Meals On Wheels Coordinator at FSS, was instrumental in launching “Ani-Meals” — a new pet program designed to give Meals On Wheels clients a little help with the much needed pet food to help maintain that important bond with their pet. This past January, Meals On Wheels clients received the first monthly delivery of food for their pets - a total of 20 dogs and 12 cats. “Recipients were very appreciative and many stated that the delivery of pet food will make it easier to care for their companions,” said Plunkett. 

Financing to start the program was made available thanks to a $1,000 grant from the “We All Love Our Pets” (WALOP) program, a partnership between the Banfield Charitable Trust and the Meals On Wheels Association of America. The funds help to purchase pet food and other supplies needed to support the program.

Additionally, through a community partnership, PetSmart stores in both Peachtree City and Fayetteville, collected donations via their “Season of Suppers” annual holiday campaign. The campaign provided the Ani-Meals program with over 400 pounds of cat and dog food (both dry and wet) as well as dog and cat treats. According to Plunkett, the community’s participation in the Season of Suppers campaign provided most of the pet food for the first delivery.

Working with FSS employees Rebecca Doyle and Heather Dockstader, Plunkett developed a client survey to identify which clients have a need for this service. Any current Meals On Wheels recipient with pets is eligible to receive Ani-Meals, whether it is a financial need or the inability to get out of the home. The team also created a pet profile database that includes detailed information about each pet including any dietary restrictions and the type/brand of food they eat.

“FSS is very proud to be able to provide this service to our Meals On Wheels clients; however, to sustain the program, additional cash and pet food donations will be needed,” said Plunkett.

Citizens who wish to purchase and donate food for the Ani-Meals program can call 770-461-0813 or visit www.FayetteSeniors.org for a list of the types/brands of pet food most needed. 

Donations may be dropped off at the FSS Life Enrichment Center located at 4 Center Drive in Fayetteville. Checks should be made payable to Fayette Senior Services.

For information about becoming an Ani-Meals delivery volunteer, contact Ginnie Plunkett, Meals On Wheels Coordinator at gplunkett@fayss.org or 770-461-0813 ext. 127.
 

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