Teaming up to feed those in need

Best Friends and Utah Food Bank partner to help keep families together.
By Denise LeBeau

In March, Best Friends Animal Society–Utah distributed over 3,500 pounds of pet food to people in need. Almost 3,000 pounds of it was cat food to help low-income families keep their felines fed and community cat caregivers who use it to keep feral cat colonies happy and healthy. With folks coming to Salt Lake City from Bountiful and beyond, the need for support is urgent.

Perfect partnership
“Our Pet Food Pantry can easily give out 850 pounds of pet food on each Saturday it’s open,” says Cami Sheridan, Best Friends low-income voucher program coordinator. “We soon discovered that we couldn’t meet the quantity of people who need the food without additional help from food drives.”
Partnering with Utah Food Bank is the perfect union. Utah Food Bank is 110 years old and focuses on assisting those less fortunate. They bring a lot of experience to the table. Last year, they gave out 36 million pounds of food, including pet food. They reach those in need by partnering with dozens of agencies throughout the state. Their Food Box program focuses on senior citizens and helping those who are disabled, and they include enough meals for seven to 10 days. While they do include pet food in this program, they are limited to how much pet food they have the capacity to distribute.
“Our partnership with Best Friends is important, as we believe feeding the hungry also includes pets whenever possible,” says Ginette Bott, chief development officer at Utah Food Bank. “Our challenge comes in providing pet food to the pantries, as there are storage requirements that are difficult for some of the smaller pantries to accommodate. That means it is crucial that people have another avenue to secure pet food. That is where you guys can exercise your expertise.”
Ingredients for success
Since Best Friends has the storage capacity, both organizations are encouraging pet food donations to be distributed through the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Sugarhouse. Utah Food Bank is actively seeking donations from local stores, veterinary offices, and companies that have might donated food directly to their organization in the past to give it to Best Friends. Numerous organizations have wanted to donate pet food to them in the past, but they were unable to accept it.
“What Utah Food Bank is helping us accomplish is imperative to helping save animals who might be surrendered to a shelter because the family doesn’t have the resources to keep them,” says Cami. “It’s also a great avenue to raise awareness for the pet food available from our pantry. Many underserved folks look at their companion animals as family and will split their meals with them – which means they’re not getting the complete sustenance that they need, while their pets are not getting the full range of nutrition that they need, either.”
This partnership in the long run will keep pets out of shelters and in their homes; it will also help thousands of community cats who are cared for by compassionate folks from going hungry.
Get involved
Find out how you can help people and pets in need by creating your own pet food drive. Email Cami Sheridan at The Pet Food Pantry accepts dry dog and cat food.
Find out more about the Best Friends Pet Food Pantry.