When the North Platte Pet Food Pantry opened 15 months ago, the volunteers didn't realize how large the need would be.
"We had heard of pet people struggling to feed their cat or dog,” volunteer Jenn Porter-Milne said. “We heard that some people, especially senior citizens, were faced with surrendering their pets because they couldn't afford food. We couldn't let that happen, so local groups came together to find a solution."
Porter said three groups -- Fur the Love of Paws, Paws-itive Partners and Animal Rescue of Kindness (A.R.K.) -- established criteria, sought donations, rented a storage unit and got the word out that the Pantry was open and ready to help.
Volunteer Susan Kubart said as of today, 443 different pets have been fed through NPPFP.
"The numbers are staggering,” she said.
Since opening, the pantry has provided:
• 6,628 pounds of dry dog food.
• 312 cans of dog food.
• 1,086 pounds of dry cat food.
• 386 cans of cat food.
• 54 pounds of food for rabbits, ferrets, hamsters and birds.
The pantry has also helped supply treats, leashes, cat litter, food bowls and more.
"Where there's a need, we've tried to fill it," Kubart said.
The pantry is open by appointment. When a pet owner contacts a volunteer, arrangements are made to meet at the pantry.
Kubart said one man she was to meet at the pantry didn't arrive. It was cold and snowing and after waiting for a considerable time, Kubart called the man. He had been delayed, but he was on his way. The man didn't own a car and was walking. By then, he was just a few blocks away.
Kubart was impressed with his dedication to his dog and determination to provide for her.
Porter-Milne said pantry volunteers interview people applying for pet food and although there aren't strict financial guidelines, the pantry is supposed to help those who need it most.
"We work hard to fill the pantry shelves and we want to help those who need us most,” she said. “We depend upon the area's help. A veterinary clinic and a store help us with food. We travel out of town to pick up food and we have fund raisers.”
"Our shelves aren't bare, but it's come close a few times," she said.
The food pantry is busy and it's gratifying when a pet owner comes,” Porter-Milne said. “We get to hear about the love the pet owner has for their pet and we visit with them about responsible pet care."
Pantry volunteers ask that people receiving assistance from the pantry pay it forward by doing community service for others.
For those wishing to donate, checks designated "NPPFP" can be mailed to PO Box 1145, North Platte, Nebraska 69103. On July 10, Godfather's Pizza in North Platte is hosting Slice of the Pie Night from 5-8 p.m. During that time, 15 percent of sales will be donated to North Platte Pet Food Pantry.
Volunteers from Fur the Love of Paws, Paws-itive Partners and A.R.K. will be at Godfather's on July 10 for Slice of the Pie Night to greet diners. If people wish to donate pet food or money donations during Slice of the Pie Night, volunteers will be in the parking lot to accept them.
To obtain an application to receive pet food, call Bianca 308-660-5188, Susan 402-340-0369, or Jenn 308-520-5528. Pet food can be received by an individual once every 30 days.
For more info, see North Platte Pet Food Pantry on facebook.