Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) received a $4,000 emergency pet food grant through a partnership between Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities®.  Funding was used to meet an increased demand for MVES’ pet-related services and overcome infrastructure challenges amid COVID-19. MVES care managers chose consumers who needed the help the most. Through this generous grant, 20 consumers and more than 30 pet companions were helped.

“While our mission remains focused on the independence and dignity of older adults, often times, their best friends may be their pets. For that reason, being able to provide food resources for both people and their pet pals can make a positive difference,” said Mystic Valley Elder Services CEO Daniel O’Leary.

Amid stay-at-home guidance and other health and safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19, millions of older adults are experiencing the impacts of loneliness and diminished social connection. While pet ownership is known to lower instances of illness and reported feelings of loneliness among older adults and is particularly crucial during this challenging time, many face difficulties with procuring groceries, like pet food and supplies, on their own.

According to a Grace, whose mother Betty is a MVES consumer and a recipient of the grant, the gift of dog food for her pet has helped her family in several ways. “Because my mother is 97 years old, and I too am a senior, we will not have to go out now to get food for our dog. We have been trying to keep our public outings to a minimum during COVID,” explains Grace.  “Because our dog is on a special diet, her pet food costs a little more. This grant helped save about $170 over the next 3 months.  The saving will go toward pet insurance and our dog’s needs. There is even a little left over for a toy or two!  So the savings are a great help.”

“As so many older adults became homebound practically overnight in the face of the pandemic, they also became shut off from critical social connections,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Meals on Wheels programs have been working around the clock to serve an influx of seniors in need of support over the past year, which includes preserving the proven powerful relationships they have with their pets. This generous funding from PetSmart Charities makes that possible.”

Grace and Betty’s dog is a 4-year-old rescue dog who has been with them for about a year and half. She is part Chihuahua and part terrier.  “When we were asked by the MVES care manager what kind of food our dog ate, I was surprised. She then explained the grant to me and how my mother could benefit from it,” says Grace.  “Yes, there are savings, but more than that, it is the thought of the organization to realize that pets are one of the nearest and dearest things to folks, especially during the Pandemic.”

To learn more about MVES services and how you can donate to those in need, please call us at 781-324-7705 or visit

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