Local

Local food pantry also provides food for pets

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A food pantry in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood offers special assistance to clients with pets.

Since February, the Care For Real food pantry has fed about a 100 pets a month. Pantry workers began the program when they noticed many of their patrons were pet owners.

Pet owners are grateful for the help

"It's very expensive to feed your animals and people are on fixed incomes now and with the economy, this is one way to help and it's great help," said Terry Randall, who gets dog food from the pantry for her 10-year-old Tibetan terrier, Buster Brown.

Randall is one of dozens of owners who visits the pantry on the First Thursday of the month. That's when it becomes a pet food pantry, giving out free food for dogs and cats to owners in need.

Patti Colandrea took the idea to local veterinarians and pet food stores and convinced them to regularly donate food and supplies. She had no trouble getting Care For Real to partner with her and serve as the hub for distribution.

"I saw what the economy was doing to people having to give up their pets or skip a meal so they could feed their pet and my new year's resolution was to help more people," Colandrea said. "So I thought a pet food pantry would be so wonderful for these people."

Irene Bermudez of Care For Real said the pet pantry was a "direct extension of our mission to feed the hungry. We had clients specifically ask us if we ever had pet food available and we had thought about it and said, 'No we feed humans, not pets, not yet anyway.' "

Margarita Rodriguez, who owns two dogs, said the pet pantry providers her healthier food than what she was able to afford.

Dolores Jackson, who owns a cat and dog is able to get special cat food at the pantry.

"My cat has hairball issues and I have to buy special food for him and a bag like that, maybe 16 ounces, is like $30," Jackson said. "So that's a lot and that money that I save I can buy food for myself."

If you'd like to volunteer, make a donation or if you need help for your pet visit www.careforreal.org

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