Photo by Deborah Bethel
Laura Kennedy and her dog, Gus, stand at the storage bin that holds the dog and cat food, cat litter and toys available to guests of the new RiverBend Pet Food Pantry.
ALTON — Paying for dinner for your best friend every night may not be ideal, but when your best friend has a fur coat and a collar, it is an unspoken truth the dinner is on you.
But when financial hardships hit and it becomes hard to make ends meet, people may choose to buy food for their furry friends over themselves, or even have to give up their beloved pets.
RiverBend Pet Food Pantry founders understand that sometimes life gets in the way and want to offer a new way of support to those in need in Madison County and surrounding counties. Its mission is to provide temporary food assistance to those in need to ensure pets stay in their homes during financially difficult times.
“Whether they lost their job or are going through a crisis, sometimes people have to get rid of their pets,” Laura Kennedy of the pantry said. “We would much rather help them feed their pets and get them assistance so they can keep the whole family together.” An owner can get a month’s worth of food for up to three pets on a take-what-you-need basis. Along with food, treats, toys and litter also are given out.
The pantry emphasizes charity, compassion for clients, reducing environmental impact and innovating with changing needs.
This service is new to the Riverbend. Kennedy said she was inspired to make it happen to keep families and their pets together. “Myself, along with SNIP volunteers Sandi Bruegger and Aimee Williams, came up with the idea, and SNIP President Sandy Eaves brought it to the Madison County Pet Coalition, and they agreed,” Kennedy said. “SNIP bears the financial burden and the rescues donate food.”
Since the recent coalition of SNIP Alliance, Metro East Humane Society and Partners for Pets, many organizations have reached out with their support. Four Muddy Paws, Shop ’n Save and Whisker Bones Supply Co. in Edwardsville, Rural King in Collinsville, and Petco and Club Paws Inc. in Alton are all working with the pantry as donation locations, keeping a box and information about the pantry at their businesses.
Pantry money comes from SNIP Alliance, which will hold fundraising events and apply for grants.
While the pantry is giving to those in need, it also is in need when it comes to volunteering. A few of the two-legged variety are needed to bag, man pickup stations and distribute the food. The organization also is on the lookout for more pickup stations.
“We always need donations of food and businesses that will put out a donation bin for us,” Kennedy said.
The RiverBend Pet Food Pantry holds a two-hour distribution of pet food once a month at 2 Emma L. Kaus Lane. The distribution lasts from 9 until 11 a.m. on the last Sunday of every month with the exception of December, when it’s on Dec. 18.
Metro East Humane Society, Partners for Pets and SNIP Alliance cosponsor the pantry, and information on the organizations and the pantry can be found on their individual websites.
For information, visit the Facebook page at RiverBend Pet Food Pantry.
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