CORALVILLE — The Coralville Community Food Pantry believes all community members should not have to go without enough food in their home.
And now, that belief applies to their pets, too.
In February, the organization launched a Pet Food Pantry, which offers low-income Coralville and Tiffin residents access to dog and cat food on a weekly basis.
“A lot of our members are struggling to get food for themselves, and so being able to secure food for an animal is that much more challenging,” said Paola Jaramillo Guayara, programs and communications coordinator for the Coralville Community Food Pantry.
The Coralville Community Food Pantry provides access to food and personal care items to about 3,300 Coralville and Tiffin residents through its food pantry and its other programs every year, according to officials.
“It’s important to think of our members as well-rounded individuals,” Jaramillo Guayara said. “So we try to provide food for all of their family members, which does include their pets a lot of the time.”
This program — which marks the first time the organization has offered pet food on a consistent basis — was made possible through a $1,200 grant from the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, an Iowa City-based nonprofit.
The grant served as seed money for the Coralville food pantry to start the program Feb. 1, allowing officials to buy bulk and wholesale pet food to be redistributed during open hours.
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The Coralville Community Food Pantry does not plan to use monetary donations to sustain the program. Instead, Jaramillo Guayara said, it plans to rely on individual donations and form partnerships with area agencies that can help fill its needs.
“We’re really hoping that the community will be able to step in and help us sustain this program long term,” she said.
Clients who shop at the food pantry can take three packages of dog or cat food once a week during open hours Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. A full list of hours is available on the food pantry’s website, coralvillefoodpantry.org.
There are many items members like seeing on the shelves, Jaramillo Guayara said, but they aren’t things that come to mind for many people who donate to the food pantry, such as personal hygiene items, baby food and diapers.
In recent years, pet food has become a more common request among clients. Pet food the pantry received through donations usually went quickly.
“Our No. 1 goal is really to provide to our neighbors the food they need … and we really felt we could expand into this pet food pantry because we have such strong food sources,” Jaramillo Guayara said.
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