South River food bank holds pet food drive for potential pantry

SOUTH RIVER–Joining forces to provide food for residents’ furry friends, the Office on Aging, the Board of Health and the South River Food Bank will hold a “Pet Food and Supplies Drive.”

Pets are a vital part of our community that are often overlooked in times of need. The South River Food Bank, Board of Health and Office on Aging are seeking donations to establish a Pet Pantry at the Food Bank to help support local pets and the people who love them, according to information provided by the borough.

“The Pet Pantry at the Food Bank is a partnership between my department, the Office on Aging, the Board of Health, and the Food Bank,” Office on Aging Director Kim Bell said. “[Board of Health Secretary] Debra Jones, [South River Food Bank Supervisor] Elizabeth Lukacs and herself are working together with our staff and volunteers to help support local pets, who are often overlooked in times of need. Our goal is to establish a safety net for pet owners that are struggling to make ends meet.”

As part of the Pet Food and Supplies Drive, residents are asked to donate unopened dry dog and cat food, unopened wet dog and cat food, unopened cat litter and pet store gift cards, according to information provided by the borough.

“Many people consider their pets ‘part of the family’ and maybe faced with having to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their pet,” Bell said. “We don’t want to see anyone go hungry, and we certainly don’t want to see anyone forced to give up a beloved companion because they can no longer afford to take care of them. If we can help lessen the burden on pet owners, maybe we can even make a small difference in reducing the population in animal shelters.”

Residents can drop off their donated items from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturdays at the borough’s Human Services Building, located at 55 Reid St., South River.

“The Office on Aging has a soft spot for animals. They’re completely dependent upon their humans to take care of their every need, they don’t have the ability to go out and earn a living,” Bell said. “Between the four of us in my office, we’ve either taken in or have helped rehome more than 50 rescued cats and dogs. You hear terrible stories about things people do to animals. We want our story to be different.”

Monetary donations are also being accepted, residents should make checks payable to “South River Board of Health Pet Program.”

“The borough’s Food Bank receives donations from compassionate people in the community, making food and supplies available to South River residents to help close the gap in their monthly budget,” Bell said. “We’re hoping to build on what they’ve already established, and expand the scope of their outreach to encompass our four-legged friends.”

Bell said this program is intended to keep existing pets at home where they belong, with the people who love them.

“The Pet Food and Supplies Drive is in its infancy stage, made public only days ago. We’re already in contact with several pet food distributors, who have expressed interest in assisting us with stocking our shelves,” Bell said. “As long as we can secure donations, food and supplies will be made available to borough pets via their owners.”

Bell said there will also be a “Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser” at 8 a.m. to noon on April 5 at the VFW, located at 31 Reid St.

Adult tickets are $10 and children under 10 are $5. Tickets are available at the Human Services Building, located at 55 Reid St. and at the Borough Hall, located at 48 Washington St.

For more information, about donating food or supplies, or volunteer their time call 732-257-2340 or email srseniors@southrivernj.org.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.