Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities have entered into a three-year partnership to help provide food, supplies, and access to care for pets belonging to Meals on Wheels clients. The program, dubbed Meals on Wheels Loves Pets, has already distributed $354,500 in grants to support senior nutrition program pet services nationwide.
The collaboration is part of a strategic effort to combat social isolation and loneliness among seniors across the country by ensuring both humans and their animal companions receive the care they need to continue living together and staying healthy.
“The companionship a pet offers enhances the physical and mental health and well-being of homebound seniors, which is particularly valuable as so many older adults are feeling even more lonely and isolated amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Meals on Wheels America president and CEO, Ellie Hollander.
Pets are especially important for the 58 percent of Meals on Wheels clients who live alone, the organization says, adding that, with nearly seven million seniors living at or below the poverty line, many find it difficult to care for a pet and will often feed their animal before they feed themselves.
“This support enables programs in 33 states to provide pet supplies and care to local seniors, making it more feasible for seniors to remain safe and healthy at home with their beloved companions during this public health emergency and beyond,” Hollander says.