Time for another installment of The Innovation Bank, our series of short, pre-recorded webinars. This week we’re sharing an opportunity to help the pet-owning seniors in your community, thanks to a partnership with PetSmart Charities & Meals on Wheels America. Read on a for a high-level overview of the program and listen to the complete webinar here.
Why It’s Important
Folks may not realize that 1 in 4 seniors in this country lives alone—and that 1 in 4 seniors feels lonely. You also may not know that 7.4 million seniors have incomes below the poverty level.
We do know the healing power of pets—and there’s data to show how especially important pets are for their senior owners. Compared to non-pet owners, seniors with pets are 36% less likely to report loneliness, and make 21% fewer doctor visits—suggesting a positive impact on health. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to keep these pets with their people.
Goals & Impact
The goal of the Meals on Wheels Loves Pets grant program is to preserve families—and a family is defined as a minimum of 1 person and 1 pet. As of August 2020, the program has distributed $354,500 in funding to provide food, supplies and access to veterinary care for clients of 98 Meals on Wheels programs in 33 states.
If the follow-up phone surveys with pet owners are any indicators, the program is definitely doing its job—and then some. “The clients were so happy to hear from us, and were so happy talk about their pets,” says PetSmart Charities’ Melisa Pratt. “It brought them so much joy. Even the phone surveyers had a great time!”
How Your Org Can Get Involved
Looking to reach this vulnerable population in your community? Visit the searchable database and enter your zipcode to see if there are Meals on Wheels affiliates in your area. Next, reach out to them to discuss how your agency might support their efforts. The idea is that the affiliate will apply for the grant, and funding will be used for the partnership’s activities.