Pet Food Pantries Prove Essential During the Pandemic
The COVID 19 Pandemic in March of 2020 brought a nationwide shutdown, resulting in schools being closed and offices shuttered. People lost their jobs and there were long lines at food pantries around the country. Pet food can be expensive and is usually not distributed as part of human food pantries.
But three pet food pantries in the Roanoke Valley have provided food and supplies for the beloved animals of those in need even before the pandemic began.
Angels of Assisi’s Pet Food Pantry
Angels of Assisi’s Pet Food Pantry started nearly a decade ago in an effort to keep people and their pets together.
“Our pet food pantry provides over 30,000 pounds of dog and cat food to the community annually, and we have seen the need increase greatly during the pandemic”, says Dana Reynolds, Angels’ Director of Communications.
She says the food pantry is open to anyone who needs food for their pets. It’s completely run by community donations.
The pantry is open during the shelter’s business hours, Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 6pm. There is curbside service and Reynolds says a hostess will come to your vehicle to assist you.
“We are so thankful we can help people and pets in the community through our pet food pantry. This is truly a full circle operation with the community giving back to the community.”
P. E. T. Community Outreach Program
The Roanoke Valley SPCA’s P. E. T. (Pets Eat Too) Community Outreach Program began in 2007 as a partnership with Meals on Wheels.
“Home-bound senior citizens can receive a supplemental supply of pet food delivered to them along with their protein-rich food from Meals-On-Wheels. Patients of Carilion Hospice can rest easier, knowing their furry companions are being fed,” according to SPCA Marketing and Communications Director Julie Rickmond.
“Low-income people with pets can receive pet food that we have delivered to our Food Pantry Partners – Bethel Baptist Church, Botetourt County, Lake Christian Ministries, Rescue Mission, and Feeding America Southwest Virginia.”
The program serves about 500 senior citizens and low-income clients each month.
Rickmond says she’s seen more people use the service as they struggle to meet basic needs during the downturn in the economy.
“We want to ensure that at-risk community members will not have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pets “
“For fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020) we distributed more than 47,000 pounds of dry dog and cat food, and more than 3,500 cans of pet food through our Emergency Food Aid, Food Pantry Pick-ups, and LOA Deliveries. Dot's Drive Thru has serviced more than 300 dogs and more than 500 cats with 5157.3 pounds of dog food, 2755.6 pounds of cat food, and 2935 pounds of cat litter from October 2020 - January 2021.”
Rickmond says the need was so great, last October they started a monthly drive-through pantry as well.
“Dot’s Drive-Thru takes place on the second Sunday each month, from noon to 2pm in the shelter parking lot, and offers cat food, dog food, and cat litter to anyone who needs it. In an effort to help as many families as possible, there is no complex paperwork to fill out, and community members will not need to get out of their cars. Staff and volunteers ask pet guardians to fill out a simple ticket with basic pet information – including how many cats and dogs are in the recipient’s household, and the weights of the dogs. Staff then calculate the amount of food needed and place the food in the family’s back seat or trunk.”
She says you can help the program by holding a food drive at your business. You can bring food to the SPCA or make a financial donation.
“Anyone needing assistance can visit any of our food pantry partners listed above, or they can utilize Dot's Drive-Thru, our drive-through pet food pantry that takes place monthly (more details on it below.) They can also give us a call at 540-339-9247 for more info or visit: https://rvspca.org/resources-education/crisis-intervention-services/p-e-t-food-pantry/”
RCACP Community Food Pantry
The Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection has been in operation for almost 5 years. Melinda Rector is the RCACP’s Director of Operations.
“The intent of the pantry is to help our community members who may be struggling by providing food for their animals. Food insecurity is a real threat to our society and if humans are having food insecurity then their animals are as well. We would prefer to have animals stay in loving homes and not be surrendered to the shelter due to lack of resources. The reality is that animals and people need each other and if we can help those families keep their pets, we want to do that.”
Rector says from April of 2020 through March of this year, the program served 517 families by feeding 1,842 pets.
“Our pantry serves the residents of Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Botetourt County, and the town of Vinton. We are extremely fortunate that our community supports this pantry and donations are received on a regular basis to keep it stocked.”
“We have seen the very best in our community when it has come to helping their neighbors and we are so grateful!”
Rector says donations of food and cat litter are needed to keep the program going. If you know of someone who could use some help, have them contact the Center at (540) 344-4922, ext. 0 and request an appointment.
***If you know of other pet food pantries in the Roanoke Valley, please list them in the comments below.***