Mystic Valley Elder Services received a $4,000 emergency pet food grant through a partnership between Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities.
Funding was used to meet an increased demand for MVES’ pet-related services and overcome infrastructure challenges amid COVID-19. MVES care managers chose consumers who needed the help the most. Through this grant, 20 consumers and more than 30 pet companions were helped.
“While our mission remains focused on the independence and dignity of older adults, oftentimes, their best friends may be their pets,” said Mystic Valley Elder Services CEO Daniel O’Leary. “For that reason, being able to provide food resources for both people and their pet pals can make a positive difference.”
Amid stay-at-home guidance and other health and safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19, millions of 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.
According to Grace, whose mother Betty is a MVES consumer and a recipient of the grant, the gift of dog food for her pet has helped her family in several ways.
“Because my mother is 97 years old, and I too am a senior, we will not have to go out now to get food for our dog,” said Grace. “We have been trying to keep our public outings to a minimum during COVID-19. Because our dog is on a special diet, her pet food costs a little more. This grant helped save about $170 over the next three months. The savings will go toward pet insurance and our dog’s needs. There is even a little left over for a toy or two! So the savings are a great help.”
“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 year, which includes preserving the proven powerful relationships they have with their pets. This generous funding from PetSmart Charities makes that possible.”
Grace and Betty’s dog is a 4-year-old rescue dog who has been with them for about a year and half. She is part Chihuahua and part terroir.
“When we were asked by the MVES care manager what kind of food our dog ate, I was surprised,” said Grace. “She then explained the grant to me and how my mother could benefit from it. At first, I thought we would receive a bag of dog food. Never did I imagine we would receive two large boxes of food! Yes, there are savings, but more than that, it is the thought of the organization to realize that pets are one of the nearest and dearest things to folks, especially during the pandemic.”
For information, call 781-324-7705 or visit http://mves.org.