Pet Gazette: Purposeful pantry 

Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma provides free pet food to disadvantaged Oklahomans.

click to enlarge from left Kim and Mike Pempin - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • from left Kim and Mike Pempin

Pets are a twofold presence in our lives — we care for them, and in turn, they give us love and affection. Through a variety of services, Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma aims to help disadvantaged pet owners provide a high quality of life for their animals.

A nonprofit founded in 2010, Pet Food Pantry serves about 150 low-income Oklahomans, senior citizens, veterans and homeless pet owners by delivering pet food once a month.

In order to qualify for pet food, interested parties should call

405-664-2858 or email info@petfoodpantryokc.org to request an application. Applicants should be at least 63 years old (veterans may be any age but must provide proof of service) and low-income, and pets should be spayed or neutered, said founder Kim Pempin.

Pempin inadvertently discovered the need for a pet food pantry several years ago when a friend gave her several cases of canned pet food to donate. She passed along the food to Skyline Urban Ministry, where she served on the board.

With the addition of free pet food, attendees of Skyline’s senior program would regularly choose food for their pets before they picked out food or clothing for themselves.

“If I can provide them pet food, then they’ll have enough money to buy their own food and take care of their medical needs,” Pempin said.

The pantry has evolved into a multi-faceted service. Excepting two part-time warehouse employees, the pantry’s 29 route drivers and helpers at the pantry are volunteers, many of whom have full-time jobs. This model keeps administrative costs low and allows for about 95 percent of donated funds to go directly to the program, Pempin said.

The pantry offers a variety of resources to applicants regardless of whether they meet the criteria for free pet food, Pempin said.

click to enlarge Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma clients - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma clients

“I envision us to be not just somebody that delivers pet food, but a resource for these people and their pets,” she said.

With the pantry application comes a list of resources, such as low-cost spay and neuter veterinary clinics, information about vaccinations and Oklahoma animal shelters that provide temporary free pet food. Pet Food Pantry also provides information about kennels at Homeless Alliance and domestic violence shelters.

“It crosses all kinds of borders,” Pempin said of the pantry’s purpose. “I was just involved in animal welfare, and that’s still my passion, but just by trying to help the animals, we’re helping the people.”

Those interested in volunteering can donate food, money or time. Pempin said that the pantry purchases pet food at wholesale prices. Volunteers can help re-bag pet food or sign up to be route drivers or assist with events such as money or food drives.

“We’re more than just delivering pet food,” Pempin said. “I’m not going to be a veterinarian, but I’m going to tell you what I know and tell you where to go. We’re here to take care of their pets all the way around.”

Visit petfoodpantryokc.org

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