Pet food program gives animal companions something to wag about
by Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
The four-legged friends of Niagara County's older adults have a lot to wag about thanks to a new program being administered by the county's Office for the Aging.
The Niagara County Office for the Aging is now administering a pet food program to ensure that adults being serviced by the county's senior nutrition program don't have to choose between eating and feeding their best friends.
Now, when home-delivered meals are taken to these seniors, an appropriate portion of dog or cat food is also delivered.
"Those who request delivery of pet food for their dog or cat, the volunteers are also bringing meals to their animals once a week as well," Office for the Aging Director Ken Genewick explained. "We're pleased to offer this program in large part because, unfortunately, we were hearing stories about clients who were saving part of their meals to feed their animals due to lack of funds or an inability to get out and purchase pet food."
Genewick said the program had been designed in conjunction with Lockport'sDonner Creek Veterinary Clinic and with a $2,500 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, a charity committed to keeping the most vulnerable populations together with their pet companions. The program is operated at no cost to county taxpayers.
Donner Creek Veterinary Clinic owner Dr. Jeanne Fournier and practice manager Grace Wingard began soliciting donations for the program in the spring. More information about the Donner Creek donation program is available here. Also making substantial contributions of pet food were the Lockport Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Niagara Feline Friends, and Banfield Pet Hospital of Orchard Park.
"This allows us to make sure that while we're bringing a full, nutritious meal to our seniors, as well as having them have enough food - and the right food - to give to their pet so that they're not sacrificing their nutrition while they're making sure that their four-legged companions are fed as well," Genewick said.
The program began with a soft launch during the spring. It is currently offered in only part of the county. "Right now, it's limited to home-delivered meals clients in Lockport, Wilson, Barker, Newfane, Gasport and Ransomville - although we hope to expand it soon," Genewick said.
The Office for the Aging director, who has made innovation and outside-the-box approaches to senior service the hallmark of his tenure as director, also praised the work of Home-Delivered Meal Coordinator Sarah Lilley, who he said had been "instrumental" in making the program's launch a success. "Sarah really believed in this, and made it a personal mission to see this succeed," Genewick said.
Genewick said that any home-delivered meals clients residing in those service areas are eligible for the pet food program, and encouraged them to contact the home-delivered meals program at 716-438-4031. Older adults wishing to take part in the home-delivered meal program can also sign up at that number.
Individuals wishing to contribute pet food or make a financial contribution toward the purchase of pet food may do so at the Donner Creek Veterinary Clinic, 5950 Robinson Road, Lockport.
Genewick also urged local residents to consider volunteering for the home-delivered meals program, noting it served a vital community interest - and provides benefits for volunteers as well.
"Volunteering's a great way to give back to the community as well as make new social contacts and improve your overall health as well," Genewick said. "Any seniors or students in need of volunteering hours are encouraged to contact the Office for the Aging at 438-4031."