Pet Food Aid Program Keeps People & Pets Together

On two Mondays a month, Diana Fordham oversees a group of fellow Dakin volunteers in offering Dakin’s Pet Food Aid Program (PFAP) for people temporarily facing challenges to keep their pets fed. The team sets up gallon-sized plastic bags filled with dry cat or dog food in Dakin’s lobby and, for the next 90 minutes, meets with and assists clients.

The Program exists to help bridge the gap that families dealing with temporary food insecurity face when they don’t have the resources to feed their pets. A long-standing safety net in that capacity, the PFAP’s primary goal is to provide enough food to help people get through a short period of time and be able to stabilize their situation.

On a recent Monday, Diana noted that “we gave out about 350 bags, which was equivalent to about 1,200 pounds of food. The majority of people are from the local community. A lot of them walk here, they don’t even have cars.”

She continued, “I also tell people about the Pet Health Center, or the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic, so they learn that there are other resources for their pets. That’s where I feel very valuable. I think the Pet Food Aid Program is a great resource for the community.”

Since the pandemic, the need for pet food assistance has soared in the Pioneer Valley.  In 2020, the program provided six times the amount of pet food than it had over the past several years.  While the past few years have seen some improvement, it’s obvious many people are still facing economic and housing-related hardships.

According to Diana, “My work volunteering for the Pet Food Aid Program has taught me a lot about the need in the community, and how grateful people are. When people are like that, you can’t help but feel good about doing this work.”  She is also quick to praise her fellow PFAP volunteers, including a team from Sunshine Village that fills the food bags. “It’s very physical work, getting the food all set up, then bringing it out front and distributing it, but our people work really well together.”

A large part of Dakin’s mission is keeping people and their pets together, and the Pet Food Aid Program is an integral part in fulfilling that. Life is filled with unexpected twists, and sometimes people who would normally not need help caring for their pets may face sudden unemployment, or an enormous increase in their monthly rent. The Pet Food Aid Program is available to help those facing temporary hardship to keep pets as part of their family.

Much of the food distributed through Dakin's Pet Food Aid Program has been graciously donated by members of our community. We warmly welcome donations of unopened dry cat and dog food. Also, you can order food to be shipped directly to Dakin through our Amazon and Chewy wish lists. Monetary gifts support this program by helping us purchase food for distribution. Check the "Pet Food Aid Fund" box when making your gift online.

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