Cumberland Times-News

December 26, 2013

Here’s an idea

Volunteers help to feed both people and their pets

Cumberland Times-News

— When you think of volunteer organizations that make life better for some people, Meals on Wheels and other programs that help feed low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities would be near the top of the list.

Some of its workers have begun taking what they do to the next level and, after hearing about it, we wonder why nobody thought of this before.

The Associated Press recently reported on how Meals on Wheels or similar programs that bring food to people have begun working with organizations to help feed their pets as well.

“Pets are so important to our seniors,” said Charles Gehring, CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based LifeCare Alliance, a nonprofit providing meals and other services to low-income seniors. “They are social workers, depression counselors, a lifeline for a lot of them.”

Those who deliver the people food began to notice that their beneficiaries were using it to feed cats or dogs instead of themselves.

“The pets are so important to them. But people need to eat what we give them. Pets don’t need salisbury steak,” Gehring said.

Amen to that. For some people, a pet may be the only living creature they see — other than the Meals on Wheels folks — and it provides the only opportunity they have to give and receive love. They may tell you that their pet is what keeps them alive.

In several states — how many is unknown — Meals on Wheels has begun to work with partner groups that obtain and prepare food for pets and then delivers it.

AP said those who qualify for Meals on Wheels or similar programs almost always qualify for a free pet food program, where one is available.

This is a wonderful idea. We’d like to see it spread across the country.