Social issues that affect people in communities across the country, such as homelessness and a lack of nutritious food on a daily basis, affect their pets, too.
There are several national food banks that serve pets in need, as well as many that operate independently within the various states and even smaller ones in individual cities. Some operate under the umbrella of general rescue organizations. Others are homegrown “boots on the ground” services. However, they all help to feed pets, and they all need help with donations and volunteers year-round.
The Rescue Bank
This foodbank is a signature program of GreaterGood.org, an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs many programs that benefit both pets and people. It supports a variety of different social causes. The organization provides grants to the animal rescue community in the form of donated pet food, whether it’s from major pet food companies or private donations, delivered through their network of regional affiliates. The Rescue Bank covers the costs to ship the products directly from the donor to its affiliate warehouses, where the food is distributed to pre-qualified recipients based on demonstrated need.
While the pet food is donated, the costs of getting the food into the pre-qualified recipient rescue organizations are not. Recipient welfare groups have to cover some of these fees. This is where individual donors can get involved on a very local level to raise money to help cover these costs.
The site’s comprehensive website details how rescue organizations can apply for grants, whether they are involved with shelters or work to feed feral cat communities, and also how individual donors can get involved and help cover costs to get the food distributed on a year-round basis. More at rescuebank.org and
Love Your Pet Expo Sanctuary
Run by Katie Ball in Redding, California, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit sanctuary is for special-needs cats (and other animals), giving them a forever home. Katie’s website is also a mine of useful information with regard to pet food banks for those in need.
“People call me looking for help, whether it’s veterinary or requests for food,” Katie explains. “I tend to research the area they are in to get them that information and then I also post to our website so that the public at large can benefit, too.” More at loveyourpetexpo.com.
Pets of the Homeless
Since it was founded in 2008, this organization, headquartered in Carson City, Nevada, has collected and distributed about 688 tons of pet food to homeless people with pets nationwide.
“We have 228 donation sites and we need many more because we have 469 pet food providers (food banks, church pantries, soup kitchens) that distribute the pet food and supplies in communities across the country,” says Genevieve Frederick, president and founder.
Genevieve started the organization after she saw a homeless man and his dog panhandling on the streets of New York. Because many shelters don’t take pets, people who refuse to give up their pets are forced to live on the streets. Genevieve’s research highlighted that in some areas of the country, 25% of homeless people have pets.
“Every day we see an increase of homeless callers asking for our help,” Genevieve confirms. “Sometimes it’s as many as 24 new cases a week.” According to a document produced by the United Nations and published in March 2019 entitled Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, more than 7,400 families are evicted in the United States every day, resulting in the eviction of millions every year. Rents in the United States have increased by 22% on average between 2006 and 2014, while average incomes decreased by 6%.
“Consequently, it is no wonder that homelessness has increased across the country,” Genevieve says. “When you have a pet, the choices get complicated: a roof over your head at a shelter where pets are ‘not allowed,’ relinquish the pet to an animal shelter or sleep in your vehicle or the street with your pet. We keep detailed records of the pets we assist, and since 2015 the ratio has been 89% dogs to 11% cats. We’ve seen that cats can be very attached to a homeless person because they are together 24/7,” she adds.
For those who want to donate food, The Pets of the Homeless website has an interactive map/search tool to find the closest drop-off points to where you live. Apart from donating food, there are many ways to work with this organization: picking up food, transporting and delivering it to distribution sites, and staffing the pick-ups. More at petsofthehomeless.org.
4 Paws Pet Food Pantry
This nonprofit 501(c)(3) pet food bank distributes donated cat (and dog) food to animal shelters and rescue groups throughout New Jersey. The group works with manufacturers, distributors and retailers with products nearing the “best by” date, packaging with minor defects or product that is being rebranded, redirecting it to pet rescue organizations that, in turn, put it in the hands of those in need. More at 4pawspetfoodpantry.org.
Colorado Pet Pantry
The Colorado Pet Pantry partners with human food banks to distribute pet food to those registered to receive food for their pets in the Denver-Boulder metro areas. The goal is to ensure family members and their pets in need get balanced, nutritious meals. More at coloradopetpantry.org.
Helen Woodward Animal Center
For more than 40 years, this unique, private, nonprofit organization in San Diego County has been committed to the philosophy of people helping animals and animals helping people. Located on 12 acres in Rancho Santa Fe, the nationally recognized center provides a variety of services including its Animeals program, which delivers pet meals to senior citizens and disabled pet owners who are housebound and find it difficult to shop for their pets. Apart from donating food to drop-off points listed on the website, the organization also accepts financial donations used to acquire food for this program. More at animalcenter.org.
#pawsforthiscause So what can YOU do?
Host a pet-food drive at your school, church or business, and donate the proceeds to one of the organizations featured in this article.
Send food to a local rescue group, allowing it to use hard-pressed funds for other services, such as medical needs.
Create a food fundraiser with GreaterGood.org. Reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone from the team will connect and explain the details.
Contact local food banks, homeless shelters and soup kitchens to volunteer your time separating and distributing pet food donations.
Visit your local homeless communities and let them know of the resources available to them from Pets of the Homeless.
Start your own food bank. The Petfinder website offers guidelines and details.
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