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Good Info​Meals on Wheels working to keep seniors and pets together

​Meals on Wheels working to keep seniors and pets together

Pets make amazing companions. They not only keep you company but it’s been proven that they are great emotional support. Many senior citizens take comfort in having a furry friend around when they’re living alone or caregiving for an ailing partner.

But having a pet can become a financial burden that not all elderly people can afford. Instead of doing the unimaginable, giving up their pet, some elderly people will go without eating to make sure their pets have food. Many senior citizens are on a fixed income, causing them to make difficult financial decisions including forgoing important medications and feeding their pets.

Programs like Meals on Wheels make sure that elderly individuals are eating at least one hot meal a day, and it’s free of charge. Meals on Wheels is a national program that reduces elderly hunger while also helping to provide elderly people living alone with human contact.

Recently, Meals on Wheels in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, started including an addition to their program–pet food. Elder Services of Berkshire County, which has been providing meals for seniors, teamed up with Berkshire Humane Society and Berkshire Family & Individual Resources (BFAIR) to start a pet assistance program for meal recipients according to iBerkshires.com.

The Berkshire County Meals on Wheels program will deliver pet food once a month to elderly program members who cannot get to the store. Since many of the people that receive meals from the food program are on a fixed income, it’s also a probability that some of the members cannot afford pet food even if they could get to the store.

Elder Services Community Services Director Kayla Brown-Wood tells iBerkshire, “I think most people would feed their pets before they feed themselves. So, this helps minimize that from happening. It’s just a really great collaboration and the idea is to be able to help those people that might not have the means to come here and visit the emergency pet food bank at Berkshire Humane Society. So, it’s just another way to help bridge that gap and that need in the community.”

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Black and tan long-coated dog with elderly man

Photo by Donna Cecaci on Unsplash

The national Meals on Wheels organization also helps elderly people keep their pets in the home by partnering with PetSmart Charities. The partnership has “helped more than 25,000 Meals on Wheels clients remain at home and together with their beloved companions,” according to the Meals on Wheels website.

They don’t stop with helping to provide meals for humans and their pets. Meals on Wheels helps support local programs that provide pet food, grooming services as well as veterinary services to the animals of elderly people who may not be able to afford it otherwise.

Meals on Wheels says, “97% of clients receiving pet assistance say that Meals on Wheels has made it possible for them to keep their loving companion, according to our research with partner PetSmart Charities.”

The partnership between Meals on Wheels and PetSmart Charities ensures that the pets of seniors have the things they need, like cat litter, nail trims, free boarding and even transportation to the veterinarian. Pets become part of your family, and with seniors that are homebound, their Meals on Wheels delivery person and their pet may be the only interaction they receive. It’s amazing to see that this essential program is not forgetting about the animal companions living with the seniors they serve.


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