Thanks to one of our favorite clients at Aston Veterinary Hospital, I had the opportunity last week to visit a special food pantry, where patron’s pets get fed, too.
Loaves and Fishes serves close to 15,000 low- and no-income individuals each year and has been doing so since 2001. It’s all-volunteer run, but it’s led by the pure will of its executive director, Linda Freeman. Linda and her team serve up boxes of food that cover five days of meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Just over a year ago our client, Jo-Ann Zoll, approached Linda and a bunch of her colleagues who run food pantries in Delaware County, Pa. Jo-Ann, in her roll as a volunteer at a local animal shelter, saw families dropping off pets because they couldn’t afford food. This drove her to try and formalize a pilot project of pet food delivery, using the food pantry as a point of distribution.
Only a few groups said they were interested in helping pets — some felt it was too controversial. But Linda didn’t blink.
“We were very well aware our clients were taking the food we gave them for themselves and giving it to their pets,” she said.
So Jo-Ann started hauling bags of dry and canned food to the pantry, which is headquartered inside Prospect Hill Baptist Church in Prospect Park, Pa. Volunteers at the pantry break down the food into smaller bags, which are distributed to individuals each month. Today nearly 200 cats and 150 dogs get their food from Loaves and Fishes each month. Jo-Ann wishes it were higher, and she’s working on raising more money to support the cause.
Aston Veterinary Hospital is supporting Loaves and Fishes through a collection can at our front desk. The hospital is also working with its distributors to secure donated food as well.