ARLINGTON, Va., February 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ – Meals on Wheels America, the national leadership organization supporting community-based programs across the U.S. dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger, announced it has received a $500,000 grant from PetSmart Charities®, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America. This funding builds upon a $3+ million commitment to Meals on Wheels America and will support local Meals on Wheels programs’ efforts to establish new, or expand existing, pet assistance services for pet-owning older adults, with an emphasis on serving underfunded geographies and populations.
Pets provide vital social connection for many older adults and can have a significant positive impact on their physical and mental health and well-being. Yet, caring for a pet may also present physical or financial challenges for older adults with limited mobility or financial constraints to manage alone, leading local Meals on Wheels programs to offer services to ease those challenges and help older adults and their pets stay together. A study released by Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities last year identifying the needs of homebound seniors and their pets found that nearly half (48%) of Meals on Wheels clients receiving pet support did not have anyone else to help them with their pet needs other than Meals on Wheels.
“Pets are important members of the family, especially for seniors,” said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. “Working in partnership with Meals on Wheels America has given us a seamless connection to pet parents in need of support. Receiving pet food right alongside their own meals may reduce financial strain and prolong the time people and their pets have together. It’s an innovative way we can look out for both ends of the leash.”
The same study also uncovered service gaps in the Meals on Wheels network’s pet assistance offerings across certain geographies, in some cases contributing to additional unmet need among historically marginalized older adults. Meals on Wheels America will leverage PetSmart Charities’ recent funding to expand its pet assistance grantmaking for local Meals on Wheels programs in an effort to address those gaps and facilitate pet care for more seniors who may need it. The new grant opportunities are designed to bolster the development, growth and sustainability of local programs’ pet assistance services in underserved areas and/or increase scalability and expand access to care.
“With this generous funding from our partners at PetSmart Charities, we can more fully support the on-the-ground-work needed for us to better understand and navigate barriers local programs face in providing pet services in communities that have historically gone without,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “We will be able to bolster growth and capacity-building among historically under-resourced and overlooked programs in the regions that need it most. With this grant from PetSmart Charities, we can significantly move the needle toward our goal of increasing the number of seniors and pets Meals on Wheels can help keep together for years to come.”
The $500,000 grant comes on the heels of additional funds granted from PetSmart Charities in early 2021 to provide emergency grants to local Meals on Wheels programs working to meet an increased demand for their pet-related services and overcome infrastructure challenges in geographic areas that had been hit hard by COVID-19 and a number of natural disasters.
ABOUT MEALS ON WHEELS AMERICA
Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.
ABOUT PETSMART CHARITIES®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 600,000 shelter pets each year. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting nearly $430 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.
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