Local pet food pantry sees huge increase in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 8:28 AM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 18:33:28-04

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Making ends meet and putting food on the table has been tough for many families during the pandemic. It's also been tough for many to feed their four-legged friends.

CC’s Cupboard Pet Food Pantry in Richmond Heights has seen a huge increase in need since the start of the pandemic. The nonprofit was started by Danielle Varanese and Sherie Coffey back in January and they began holding free pet food and supply distributions in the beginning of March.

They say once the pandemic hit just a few weeks later, they saw a surge in people needing food and are now trying to keep up with the demand.

“We saw a huge growth in our clientele that needed to help because of the COVID pandemic, everybody getting laid off, losing their jobs and everything like that,” Varanese said.

The pantry is located inside K-9 Kingdom on Highland Road in Richmond Heights. K-9 Kingdom is owned by Varanese’s mother who donated space in the shop for the pantry.

Their food distributions are geared towards people who are low income, elderly people who are struggling to pay for food, or those who have been laid off due to the pandemic.

“It helps out all the animals. It helps out the parents. They don’t have to give their dogs away. They don’t have to put them to sleep,” Coffey said.

Distributions are held every first and third Saturday of the month from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., where pet owners can pick up a month’s worth of food for however many pets they have.

Varanese and Coffey say they go through 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of dog and cat food on every distribution day. All of the food is donated, so they rely on local pet shops, shelters, veterinarians, and the community to help them replenish what they give out.

“Some of them come from anonymous donors. We have an Amazon shopping list that they could shop from and they send us. We get a lot of neighborhood people that drop them off to us,” Varanese said. “We even have a lot of prescription food that gets donated from veterinarians. So if your dog is on a prescription diet, we can also help you out with that food if we carry it in stock right now. We don't always have food that you're in need of, so if we do have it, then we can help you at that time. We do ask that you get a doctor's note for the prescription food though, so we just can't give that out to you.”

As the need has grown over the last several weeks, Varanese and Coffey said the gratitude from their clients has as well.

“We have people that have come in and have cried because they've been able to feed their dogs. You know, it's hard because people are like, oh, we love you so much. We wish we could hug you. We wish we could give you so much thanks. We get thank you notes in the mail. Its just a tremendous feeling to be able to help so many people in the area,” Varanese said.

CC’s next distribution day is Saturday, July 4. Because of the holiday the hours are shortened from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Varanese and Coffey ask anyone interested in picking up food to fill out an application on their website.

The pantry is also in need of more donations which can be given through PayPal, their Amazon wishlist, or even drop offs in person while the pantry is open or during operating hours at K-9 Kingdom, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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