The Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program, a partnership between PetSmart Charities and Meals on Wheels America, recently distributed $354,500 to help keep homebound seniors and their pets together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant funds will be used to provide food, supplies and improved access to care for the pets of Meals on Wheels clients.
The three-year partnership with PetSmart Charities is part of Meals on Wheels America’s strategic effort to combat social isolation and loneliness among seniors across the country, ensuring that seniors and their animal companions receive the care they need to age in place together, according to officials.
“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,” said Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “We’re grateful for PetSmart Charities’ ongoing support, which has allowed us to invest Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grants in more local Meals on Wheels programs than ever before. This support will enable 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.”
This year, Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities awarded grants to 98 local Meals on Wheels programs through the Meals on Wheels Loves Pets initiative to ensure seniors and their animal companions can live happy, healthy lives together.
Pets are especially important for the 58 percent of Meals on Wheels clients who live alone, providing a consistent source of comfort, officials said. With nearly 7 million seniors living at or below the poverty line, many find it difficult to care for a pet, and will often feed their pet before they feed themselves, officials added.