The number of Rockland residents struggling to put food on the table has been rising — and higher prices for groceries mean some of them are also having trouble feeding their four-footed housemates.
Enter Hi Tor Animal Care Center. The shelter has begun a partnership with Rockland County Meals on Wheels and the Rockland Community Action Program to donate pet food for families in need.
Hi Tor receives gifts of pet food all the time from many generous members of the community, Hi Tor Executive Director Rick Tannenbaum told Patch. For example, he said, ShopRite dropped by yesterday to donate 100 pounds of dog food — 12 8-pound bags, to be precise.
Hi Tor can't use it all — but thanks to a creative new program the shelter just started, it will get to furry friends in need.
"We get inundated with donations we cannot use, because we have very specific diets for our cats and dogs," he said. "This will channel those donations to people who can use them."
Hi Tor officials went looking for the right place to pass on the bounty. They found that Meals on Wheels and RCAP were, when they could, offering small quantities of pet food to their clients with pets.
"Meals on Wheels of Rockland has been helping our seniors by providing supplemental pet food for about 10 years," said Logistics and Program Coordinator Denise Tanksley. "Research shows that seniors with pets are less likely to be depressed, lonely, or get sick. For many seniors, pets are their closest companions. We are so appreciative that Hi Tor has offered to donate additional pet food to assist us with this initiative."
It works for Hi Tor too.
"They already do all the hard work of qualifying people, sorting the food into smaller portions, setting up delivery," Tannenbaum said. "We don’t have to reinvent anything."
The end of pandemic-era supplementary benefits left many of clients more dependent on the food pantry for nutrition, said Rosie Samudio, director of Rockland Community Action Partnership. "Due to financial struggles, our low income families face challenges in feeding their loved ones. It's even more difficult for them to feed their cat or dog. Thanks to the support from Hi Tor, we can now include pet food in our food distribution every week."
If you'd like to become part of this giving initiative, Hi Tor Animal Care Center has a donation trailer right outside the front gate that is accessible 24 hours a day.
Be judicious about what you bring. They cannot use or pass on open bags of food or anything that has expired.
By the way, to make its core operation more accessible, the shelter has begun staying open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays to accommodate residents whose work and family schedules make it hard to get to Pomona during the day.
The shelter is located at 65 Fireman’s Memorial Drive in Pomona. Find out more, including about volunteering and donating, here.
RCAP has food pantry locations at 15-17-19 West Broad Street, Haverstraw and 94 North Main Street in Spring Valley. Find out more, donate or volunteer here.
Click here to find out more, volunteer or donate to Meals-on-Wheels Rockland.