The FTHRA and the local Humane Society have been working together for about a year to help area seniors who sometimes share their limited food resources with furry friends.
And with a $500 gift from the 2017 Meal on Wheels Loves Pets Grant Program, the Humane Society has used its bulk buying know-how to expand that partnership.
FTHRA Director of Nutrition Services Stephanie Walker said the Humane Society initiated its partnership with the agency last year after learning Meals on Wheels recipients often share their lunch with their pets when they’re unable to buy pet food.
“We applied for the grant and then gave the money to the Humane Society of Washington County, because they have the buying power to purchase the pet food,” Walker said. “They were able to purchase over six pallets of pet food, which was well over 240 bags of dog and cat food.”
Walker said the Humane Society delivers pet food once a month to the FTHRA central kitchen, and Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver it to area seniors who receive Meals on Wheels who have pets.
“Many of our meal recipients rely on their pets as emotional support but struggle financially to provide food for them,” Walker said.
Walker said the grant program has been in place nationally since 2007 and has so far distributed more than $1.8 million in funding and pet food donations to nearly 300 Meals on Wheels programs across the country that are working to keep pets and their homebound seniors together.
Meals on Wheels Northeast Tennessee provides daily meals to about 1,000 seniors in Carter, Johnson, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.
The program is not limited by income eligibility and is open to any homebound senior or disabled adult with nutrition challenges, including isolation, lack of transportation and inability to cook.
Those who wish to apply for Meals on Wheels may call the Area Agency on Aging and Disability at 866-836-6678. Those who wish to volunteer with Meals on Wheels may call FTHRA at 423-461-8217.
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.