By Janet McAfee
High inflation and economic woes in the aftermath of the pandemic are stressing many Coachella Valley residents. Dana Johnson, Executive Director of Food Now in Desert Hot Springs, estimates that as many as 34% of his community’s families need food assistance in 2022. He explains the rising costs at the grocery stores bring 150,000 people in our Valley to come for food assistance.
The majority of our households have at least one pet, a cat or dog. Seniors on a limited income and other struggling families may share their limited food supply with their animals. That means those individuals have less to eat. Certain types of human foods such as avocados, nuts, gravy, and chocolate can be dangerous for pets to eat. These human foods can make them sick at a time when their owners cannot afford veterinary care. A malnourished or sick animal may be in danger of being relinquished to an already overcrowded animal shelter. Our goal is for the entire household to be healthy, and for pet lovers that includes our four-legged family members.
Loving All Animals recently received notification through Riverside County Department of Animal Services (www.rcdas.org) that they had 3 extra tons (6,000 pounds) of pet food available. This was packaged in large size pallets. Loving All Animals arranged for this large amount of the food to be delivered to FOOD NOW in Desert Hot Springs for storage and delivery. Then 200 pounds of the pet food was delivered to the Cathedral City Senior Center to assist their clients’ animals.
What can you do to ensure our community’s domestic pets receive adequate nutritious food when many of their families are struggling? PLEASE GO TO FIND FOOD BANK’S WEBSITE WWW.FINDFOODBANK.ORG TO SEE A LIST OF ALL COACHELLA VALLEY FOOD DISTRIBUTION LOCATIONS (FOOD BANKS, SENIOR CENTERS, ETC.), CLICK ON “PROGRAMS & SERVICES” FOR A LIST OF AGENCIES. BRING YOUR DONATED DOG AND/OR CAT FOOD AT THE LOCATION CONVENIENT FOR YOU. Obviously contact that agency for their scheduled open hours.
Lorena Marroquin, Director of Community Impact with FIND Food Bank, tells us, “If you are interested in donating pet food to the community, consider delivering your donation directly to one of FIND’s agency partners. You can locate a city on our website for a nonprofit or homeless shelter that can accept and distribute pet food to their clients. Please feel free to donate your pet food to our warehouse; however, your donation would be best served to a community agency partner who can gift it directly to member of the community.” Dog, puppy, cat and kitten cans and unopened bags of food are needed.
It might sound like 6,000 pounds of pet food would last quite a while. Dana Johnson explains, “6,000 pounds of pet food will be distributed in 3-lb bags. We have enough pet food for approximately 3 months. During any 3 months we reach 700 unduplicated households with a majority having at least one animal”. The supply of donated food needs to keep coming. Repacking and transport are required for FOOD NOW to continue supplying distribution centers throughout our region.
Precious pup Scooter pictured here waits happily in line with his human dad Rick in their car outside Food Now in Desert Hot Springs. Scooter loves car rides, especially when they involve food! Scooter tells his story:
“My name is Scooter. I am 6 years old, and I now live with Rick who takes great care of me. Three years ago, I was devastated when my family took me to a shelter and left me there. I started to think no one would ever come for me. Then Rick arrived at the shelter, we hit it off, and now we go everywhere together. One of the highlights of our week is when we go to Food Now. Rick picks up a week of healthy food for both of us. Rick told me that the nice people at Food Now want to make sure no one in our community goes hungry. And that goes for their four-legged friends too. Thank you Food Now and the volunteers for all you do!”
Many of the organizations on the agency list need volunteers. Pet food often needs to be repackaged and labeled. Food needs to be sorted and distributed to arriving clients with and without pets.
Get involved this summer when the needs of people and pets are great! Giving to others brings purpose and joy to our lives.