Bountiful Bowl Program offers pet food assistance around Washtenaw County
Photo by Ann Edwards
Karen from Ypsilanti is one of those people using the HSHV Bountiful Bowls Program. She is a single mom of 2 who lost her job at an auto supply company last year.
“We are able to keep our dog because of this program," she says. "Life has been rough lately. But having to give up our beloved Rosie would have made everything so much worse. The kids would have been devastated. We are very thankful for this program.”
Bountiful Bowls was organized by HSHV’s Director of Volunteers and Operational Support, Kelly Schwartz and is supported through the efforts of many HSHV volunteers. I sat down with Kelly and asked her to provide information to the residents of Washtenaw County about this important program.
Did HSHV model its program off of anything that is in existence elsewhere?
Schwartz: We spoke with a few other organizations in other states to find out what worked best and then designed our program with those ideas in mind. There were no other organized food programs in the Metro Detroit or surrounding areas at the time. Since starting our program, we have assisted other organizations in starting a pet food program for their service area, including Friends of Dearborn Animal Shelter, Humane Society of Kent County and Humane Ohio.
How do people qualify for the program?
Schwartz: Our food program serves residents of Washtenaw County, Canton & Plymouth. The program is based on need. To be eligible, recipients must show proof of residency and qualify as low income, be a current participant in a state/federal assistance program. Or they must be experiencing financial hardship due to the current economic situation - including a job loss or home foreclosure.
What exactly does HSHV’s Bountiful Bowls Program provide and what are the particulars of the program?
Schwartz: The program provides approved recipients with supplemental monthly pet food to help ease their financial burden. Food distribution is done solely by volunteers, so it is limited to Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. People interested in receiving pet food would need to come to our food storage unit located in the shelter parking lot any Sunday.
More information about the program is available on our website. Applications can be downloaded from our website to be filled out and brought to the food storage unit on Sundays. Recipients receive a bucket of nutritious food that has been donated by local residents and businesses. To help aid in digestion, we mix at least 2 different types of good quality food in each bucket.
Recipients are eligible to receive food once a month. They simply bring their identification & bucket back each month to be refilled with more nutritious pet food. When recipients get back on their feet and are able to purchase food for their pet, they can turn in their bucket knowing that we’ll be here if they should ever need assistance again.
How many people have been assisted?
- HSHV received 28,877 lbs of donated food (from individuals and big box retailers)
- HSHV distributed 26,842 lbs to the community
- We had 221 recipients come to the shelter to get food
- We just started working with Manchester Veterinary Clinic, Food Gatherers & Manchester Family Services to distribute food to 12 recipients in Manchester last month
- We worked with Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food to 25 homebound recipients & their pets
What is our overall goal for the program and how long will it run?
Schwartz: Our overall goal is to provide free, nutritious food to pet owners in need. We never want a family to turn their animal into us because they could not afford the food. We hope to continue and expand this program, providing we have the donations to support it. Right now we are completely out of cat food and will need to purchase food with donations to the program. For some reason, we do run out of cat food most every week. We hope to get more donated cat food or monetary donations to keep our supply up with our demand. We would also like to see organized food programs like ours implemented in the surrounding counties. About 30% of the inquiries we receive about the pet food program come from residents of other counties.
How can people help?
Schwartz: We would love to see more retailers call HSHV and allow us to pick up food that they would otherwise put in their dumpsters. Often bags get torn, or cans get dented on their way to the store shelves. Many places simply throw the pet food out and we could really use it. Please call (734) 661-3517 to arrange for our volunteers to pick up food.
What retailers are currently giving HSHV assistance for this program?
Schwartz: Currently we only have one regular supplier:
- The Pittsfield Township Walmart