The Osceola Council on Aging is proud to announce that it has received a $4,000 emergency pet food grant through a partnership between Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities. Funding will be used to meet an increased demand for the Osceola Meals on Wheels pet-related services and overcome infrastructure challenges due to COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. The Osceola Council on Aging’s Pet Program serves over 77 pets that includes 42 cats and 35 dogs.
“We are thrilled to receive these funds thru Meals on Wheels of America to assist our seniors with their pets during these difficult times,” said Wilda Belisle, Senior VP of Osceola Meals on Wheels. “Providing pet food is important because our clients will feed their pets before they feed themselves, so having the pet food will make our clients very happy that they know their pets will be taken care of during these challenging times.”
Amid stay-at-home guidance and other health and safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19, millions more older adults are experiencing the impacts of loneliness and diminished social connection. While pet ownership is known to lower instances of illness and reported feelings of loneliness among older adults and is particularly crucial during this challenging time, many face difficulties with procuring groceries, like pet food and supplies, on their own.
“As so many older adults became homebound practically overnight in the face of the pandemic, they also became shut off from critical social connections,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Meals on Wheels programs have been working around the clock to serve an influx of seniors in need of support over the past ten months, which includes preserving the proven powerful relationships they have with their pets. This generous funding from PetSmart Charities makes that possible.”