Pet Food Pantry helps families keep pets in times of need
In this harsh economic climate, there have been “a lot of articles in the news about people having to give up their pets to shelters—or even abandoning them,” Alyce Pincoske said. Pincoske is the secretary of the Pet Food Pantry, a non-profit organization in Fairfield, Maine that distributes pet food to families free of charge.
According to Pincoske, the Pet Food Pantry hopes to “keep pets with their families, even if their families are in financial trouble” by providing pet food and supplies for pick up on the fourth Friday of every month at the Victor Grange in Fairfield.
About 80 to 100 families take advantage of this service each month. “These are people that are really having a hard time,” Picoske said. “Some come once and don’t come back. Some always come [and] some come only during difficult months.”
“There are those naysayers that say if you can’t afford a pet you shouldn’t have one,” Pincoske said, but she reminds us that there are many people who commit to pets while financially stable and then run into unforeseen hardship, such as losing a job, and can no longer afford to take care of them.
The Pet Food Pantry, which began in March 2009, provides food for dogs, cats, birds and fish. Pincoske estimated that they purchase about 85 percent of this food (about $1,200 worth) in bulk from wholesale retailers. The funds they use to purchase food are donated to the organization. The pantry also receives food donations from local veterinarians and pet supply stores—when customers check out at PetCo, they are asked if they want to buy dry or canned food to contribute to the Pet Food Pantry.
Despite all of this support, the organization is struggling to meet an increasing demand, as it notes that more and more families are taking advantage of its services. What’s more, the Pet Food Pantry will no longer be able to use Victor Grange as the base of its operations. “We need a new home,” Pincoske said. The pantry is currently looking to re-locate to the Methodist Church on Pleasant Street in Waterville. Just minutes from campus, this re-location could be beneficial for both the Pet Food Pantry and for students on the Hill who are interested in volunteering. The Pet Food Pantry is run entirely by volunteers, and is actively seeking more.
“There’s only six of us [right now], so there’s only so much we can do,” Pincoske said. The organization is looking for help in devising creative fundraising campaigns and in utilizing social networking systems to publicize their mission. “We have a Facebook, but we don’t know how to use it,” Pincoske said, suggesting that students at the College could be particularly helpful in this endeavor. They could also use students with grant-writing experience to solicit donations from pet food companies. “Whatever anybody’s talent or interest, we could find a way to use it,” Pincoske said.
Students interested in learning how they can help the Pet Food Pantry should email PetFoodPantry@gmail.com.