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Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne reflects on new AniMEALS Program for 1st anniversary

Photo courtesy of Rhianna Brand/Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On Jan. 19, the AniMEALS Program will celebrate its first anniversary of delivering pet food and supplies to Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne clients’ companion animals.

The AniMEALS program was developed because many seniors and homebound Meals on Wheels clients were sharing their meals with their pets, which could compromise their own nutrition and health. Oftentimes, aside from the daily visits from the Meals on Wheels delivery drivers, clients’ pets are the only source of companionship for many Laramie County residents. Studies indicate that pets can help people feel less lonely and isolated by giving people a sense of purpose, joy and happiness.

Photo courtesy of Rhianna Brand/Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne

The Meals on Wheels Loves Pets Grant, provided by a partnership between Meals on Wheels of America and Petsmart Charities, was given to Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne to help launch the program. From there, Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne began the groundwork by creating and completing a client survey to gauge the need of Laramie County residents. During that time, they began reaching out to local businesses to see who could be of support. Two companies rose to the occasion: Dr. Elsey’s and Cheyenne Dog Food Company.

“We knew it was vitally important to help our clients’ companion animals have the food and supplies they need to not only survive, but also thrive,” said Stephanie Freeman, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne. “Just like we have a registered dietician to help us provide the highest quality of food to our clients, we wanted to serve the companion animals with the same care.”

“It’s been an amazing experience this past year helping local pet parents in need. Dr. Elsey’s does the easy part in providing feline food and litter, but the Meals on Wheels team is due all the credit for coordinating and delivering pet food to the individuals in need of meals for themselves and their pets,” said Mat Brost, marketing director for Dr. Elsey’s. “It’s been wonderful partnering with Meals on Wheels and watching their AniMeals program become an essential part of our community.”

The information gathered through the application process to serve the pets of Meals on Wheels clients is as follows:

  • Number of pets
  • Type of pet(s)
  • Name, breed, age and weight of pet(s)
  • Veterinarian
  • Current vaccinations/medications
  • Current brand and type of food

Thanks to the help of Dr. Elsey’s and Cheyenne Dog Food Company, the companion animals added to the program are then switched to the most nutritional brand of food that closely relates to their previous brand, where applicable. New AniMEALS clients who are cats and dogs are given Optagest, a digestive aid to help with the transition between brands of food. The AniMEALS program also serves all other animals, like fish and birds, but cannot provide live bait. All AniMEALS are delivered every third Saturday of the month throughout Laramie County thanks to many incredible volunteers.

In a case study done by Meals on Wheels of America, over 80% of pet-owning clients believe that support from the pet program has made it possible for them to keep their pet or pets. Currently, the local AniMEALS program serves nearly 80 companion animals every month and has delivered over 18,000 pounds of pet food and supplies in 2023.

Photo courtesy of Rhianna Brand/Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne

Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne has seen a need for veterinary and grooming services for participants as more information has been gathered over the last year of running the AniMEALS program. The organization has begun working on finding solutions to this in the coming year. If you are a groomer and/or veterinarian and would like to be a part of the AniMEALS program, please email events and program coordinator Rhianna Brand at rbrand@mealsonwheelsofcheyenne.com.

The public is invited to help celebrate the first Anniversary of the AniMEALS program by doing the following in the month of January. Anyone can donate to the AniMEALS program by:

  • Visiting the Cheyenne Dog Food Company LLC, located at 801 W. Pershing Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82001, and putting money on an AniMEALS gift card.
  • Donating at on the Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne website.
  • Dropping off pet toys/snacks at any time Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to the Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne office, located at 2015 S. Greeley Highway. For any questions or to get involved in helping to deliver a meal to Laramie County residents and their pets, call 307-635-5542 or visit the Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne website.
  • Hold a fundraiser and/or sign up to volunteer for the AniMEALS program.