AGAWAM, Mass (WGGB) — No doubt you’ve heard of Meals on Wheels. It’s a service to provide free food for the elderly and homebound. But you may not have heard of a similar program. A program for dogs and cats.
Emily Guidi of Agawam spends every morning, Monday through Friday, delivering Meals on Wheels.
One recent morning, Guidi dodged raindrops as she rushed from house to house, greeting each person with a big smile and an armful of food. “This is Meals on Wheels,” she announced while ringing the doorbell.
“A lot of them you know, have arthritis or they are in a wheel chair or you know, they just need a little helping hand,” she explains.
That helping hand comes from the Agawam Senior Center where about 160 Meals on Wheels are prepared daily. The food is meant for people but that’s not always the case.
“We certainly wouldn’t want an elder choosing between feeding themselves or feeding their animals,” said Pam Votzakis. She is the outreach coordinator at the senior center and understands the need to provide fresh and nutritious food to those in need. Which is where Agawam Animal Control Officer Allison Strong comes in. She recognized that need as well… and not just for people but also for pets.
“We’ll work with them (Meals on Wheels) to make sure those pets are being fed pet food and not the food that meals on wheels are bringing them.”
Officer Strong says she doesn’t store pet food at the police station, other than some that’s donated. Instead, she calls around to places like Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, where they usually have a ready supply at their pet food bank.
“We want to make sure your animal stays happily at home with you,” said Dakin Executive Director Leslie Harris. “If you’ve fallen on hard times we want to make sure your pets gets the food he needs to stay healthy and at home with you.”
After picking up the pet food, Officer Strong makes her own deliveries. Instead of Meals on Wheels… Meals for Paws.
“Those of us in animal control really want to get out and help our communities rather than being that scary dog catcher that rolls down the street,” said officer Strong.
Dakin actually partners with the Meals on Wheels program in both Amherst and Northampton, providing pet food along with the meal delivery.
In most other communities, if you or someone you know needs help feeding pets… you can call animal control. They can also provide information on low-cost vet care and spay/neuter assistance.