A different kind of food drive this Saturday will benefit clients of The Open Door.

The Pet Food Task Force in partnership with Cape Ann Animal Aid are hosting a pet food drive this Saturday at the Shaw’s Supermarket on Eastern Avenue in Gloucester. Donations will go to The Open Door so that pet food can be distributed through its food pantries in Gloucester and Ipswich.

The drive will take place from 1 from 4 p.m. and will be accepting small- to medium-sized bags and cans of cat food and dog food and gift cards.

"Helping people connect to food for themselves is our primary mission," said Julie Lafontaine, president and CEO of The Open Door. "Last year, a year like no other, we served nearly 10,000 people with 2.64 million pounds of food, a 27% percent increase over the previous year."

"In 2020, The Open Door distributed 8 tons of pet food (16,516 pounds)," she added. "For many, the companionship of a pet is as vital to a person’s wellbeing as other basic necessities. By its nature, the pandemic isolated people and pets were a lifeline."

The Open Door in Gloucester is a  food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham.

"I really wanted to do this for them," said Lindsey Feldman, one of the drive organizers and a member of the Pet Food Task Force. 

The nonprofit Pet Food Task Force, a division of PAWSitive Pantry launched in March 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, when economic hardship created unprecedented demand for food assistance. At the same time, several animal welfare organizations in Greater Boston discovered a shared problem: their pet food pantries and services were underutilized. In response, the organizations formed relationships with local human food pantries and started to provide them with pet food. In response to this success, these animal welfare organizations formed a collaborative network to better coordinate with food pantries and retailers statewide.

"We recognize that when people are struggling to put food on the table for themselves, they are also stretching to feed their pets," Lafontaine said. "Sometimes it is easier for someone to come to the food pantry for the first time for their pet, and then after they are here, they can see the resources that are available for the whole household." 

Residents in need of pet food may contact info@petfoodtaskforce.org or reach out to The Open Door at foodpantry.org

People looking to get food for themselves or their pets can use The Open Door's new online ordering system found at www.foodpantry.org/order. Registration for first-time users is easy, and any client of the food pantry in the past two years may use the instructions to log-in.

For more information on how else to contribute to any of these organizations, please visit:.

Cape Ann Animal Aid: capeannanimalaid.org

Pet Food Task Forcepetfoodtaskforce.org.

The Open Door: foodpantry.org

Andrea Holbrook may be contacted at 978-675-2713 or aholbrook@gloucestertimes.com.

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