Closure threatened at Caribou Free Pet Food Pantry

To the editor:
Halfway Home Pet Rescue in Caribou has operated the Marie Joyce Allen Free Pet Food Pantry for the past six years. Unfortunately, this program for families in temporary financial crisis is currently unable to meet more than 60 percent of presented needs.

The HHPR donated local food supply has greatly diminished each month due to the elimination of a food shopping cart at the former Paradis Shop ‘n Save. Hannaford Food Recovery in Portland generously supplies the pet rescue with a full pick-up truckload of free food and supplies monthly. Volunteers travel to Portland to transport the supply back to the rescue.
However, the pet rescue has grown to such an extent that this full load is now entirely needed for the HHPR rescued cats and all of the spayed/neutered feral colonies that HHPR continues to maintain and control.
The shopping cart food formerly at Shop ‘n Save in Caribou was basically the largest supplier of the emergency food source for the non-profit’s free pet food for families in crisis. People shopping at the store would buy a supply of additional pet food to donate by placing it in this collection cart.
This shopping cart was a huge source of help to the free pet food pantry. We collected the food weekly and we often had enough from the venue to help at least a dozen families with urgent needs and often even share with the PAWS rescue in Fort Kent and the Houlton Humane Society. Central Aroostook always reported ample supplies when called so the extra supply was branched out to Fort Kent and Houlton shelters when they needed it. Also, many times the state humane agent would stop by the rescue to pick up food supplies (both dog and cat) for Aroostook County families that have desperate needs that the state agent knew about, but that HHPR was not aware of because of confidentially policies.
Hannaford Food Recovery is credited with being extremely generous in helping the pet rescue. Without Hannaford’s we would not be able to do all the medical care that HHPR gives to the rescued cats. Their gift of supplies enables us to use the donated money directly on the cats’ medical care.
If local people wish to continue the free pet food pantry, they are asked to leave donations at the Adoption Center at 489 Main Street, or 11 Pioneer Ave., or at the Second Chance Thrift Store at 31 Herschel St. all located in Caribou. The supply of the food pantry will be on a month to month basis according to what has become available.
People who are in crisis and need assistance with pet food should fill out an application available at the Second Chance Thrift Store. The store is open on Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. As food is available HHPR volunteers will call the applicant with notification of when and where to pick up a supply of pet food. It is only necessary to fill out an application once – you will continue to be on the HHPR checklist when the food is available.

Norma Milton