Detroit — Old Mother Hubbard is getting a hand with filling her cupboard with food for pets from a Detroit food bank.
On Wednesday, Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit distributed some 40,000 pounds of pet food to its partner agencies to help feed needy families’ pets in the area. The 20 tons of food equals nearly 190,000 meals for pets, officials estimate.
A 53-foot semi-truck from pet supplies retailing giant PetSmart dropped off 50 pallets of the pet food Tuesday at Gleaners’ warehouse on the city’s east side. Gleaners officials said the delivery is the largest pet food donation in the Detroit charity’s 40-year history.
Volunteers from PetSmart were at the warehouse Wednesday and loaded up bags of pet food in the backs of vans, pickups and trucks sent by Gleaners’ partner agencies.
Ryan Hoyle, Gleaners Chief Development Officer, said pets quickly become faithful four-legged family members and it’s difficult for families struggling with hunger to feed their pets.
“For families that are struggling to make ends meet for themselves and their children, having that extra mouth to feed is no burden a family should face,” he said. “This (donation) is going to make a real impact on our community.”
Hoyle said families in need will often take food from their own tables to feed their pets. PetSmart’s donation should help them avoid that, he said.
“It allows the efforts we do for the human members of a family to go that much further, because families can now focus on feeding themselves and their children with the food we provide.”
Last year, Gleaners distributed more than 38 million pounds of food to 534 schools, soup kitchens, shelters and pantries in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties.
PetSmart Charities spokeswoman Lauren Sawyer said the donation is meant to help people in need keep their pets. She said people who are going through a tough time and who have pets often have to give them to shelters because they can’t feed them.
PetSmart Charities is the nonprofit philanthropic arm of Phoenix-based PetSmart. PetSmart has more than 1,500 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and employs about 55,000.
“It’s really important for us to be able to support those pet parents in need so they can support their pets and keep their pets,” Sawyer said. “By providing this pet food donation to Gleaners, we’re not only trying to help pet parents feed their pets, we’re trying to keep them out of shelters. ”
Hoyle agreed. “This donation from PetSmart is just critical,” he said. “It’s literally helping keep families together.”
PetSmart stores collected the food under the company’s “Buy a Bag, Give a Meal” program, in which it will donate a meal to a pet in need for every bag of dog or cat food purchased in its stores or its website through Dec. 31.
On Wednesday, Monty Stahelin picked up a few pounds of pet food from Gleaners’ warehouse on behalf of Community Sharing, a food pantry in Highland Township. He said the pantry supplies food to about 400 families. A stack of dog food bags filled up the back of his white panel van.
“A lot of those families have animals and we don’t want them to have to get rid of them,” said the 66-year-old Community Sharing volunteer and Highland Township resident. “This is going to save us some money and make a lot of people happy.”