How Long Island Cares Is Helping Pets Across The Island

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A local non-profit, The Shelter Connection, has teamed up with Long Island Cares to provide pet food for those in need.
Port Washington’s The Shelter Connection has partnered with Long Island Cares Inc. to provide resources for the pets of food-insecure families. The Shelter Connection provided LI Cares with a $35,000 grant to supply families and food pantries on Long Island with pet food.
The Shelter Connection is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization working with the Town of North Hempstead. The shelter was founded by a group of volunteers with a shared goal to improve the lives of shelter dogs while they wait for adoption.

Pet food ready to be distributed. (Contributed photo)

“Since COVID-19, [The Shelter Connection] began donating to Long Island Cares,” said Bob Slifkin, the president of The Shelter Connection. “Long Island Cares used to deliver just human food, and now we’re donating money to them so they can provide pet food in their deliveries. People shouldn’t have to scrounge to feed their pets,” said Slifkin.
According to Long Island Cares website, their goals are to “improve food security for families, sponsor programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency and educate the general public about hunger on Long Island.” Long Island Cares delivers food to centrally located community locations where people can pick up various perishable and non-perishable foods to feed their families.
Alyssa Biscardi, the Long Island Cares assistant manager of Agency Relations, oversees the day-to-day operations of the distribution of foods to different locations. Long Island Cares mostly receives non-perishable donations, but they also get “fresh produce, fresh dairy, and fresh bakery goods donated from places like BJ’s, Target and Amazon,” said Biscardi.
The items received from the stores are then distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. “People are allowed to come by Monday through Friday to take any of those items,” said Biscardi.
When Long Island Cares received the generous grant from The Shelter Connection, they “reached out to the clients in the area and asked what kind of pet food is being requested,” said Biscardi. “Long Island Cares was then able to take the money and directly convert it to something that clients needed.”
“A lot of the food pantries had said that their clients would ask for an extra can of tuna or chicken so they could have something to give their pet because they were unable to afford pet food,” said Biscardi.
Pets are often looked at as “another member of the family, so clients will go without food if it means they can get an extra can of food for their pets,” said Biscardi.

Heather McSherry, the Mobile Outreach Coordinator, travels with the van to different locations across Long Island. (Contributed photo)

Heather McSherry is the outreach coordinator of Long Island Cares, and is in charge of the Mobile Outreach Resource Enterprise (MORE) program. The MORE van goes to various “health centers, libraries, community colleges and anywhere where there might be a high need for food” to distribute non-perishable, prepackaged bags of food, McSherry noted.
“People are always asking for pet food, specifically dog and cat food. [Long Island Cares] tries to get both wet and dry food, so clients have an option,” said McSherry. “I take their feedback when they say they don’t like a certain brand and switch it up to something they mention they prefer.”
The addition of pet food to Long Island Cares distribution has been very well received by the organizations and clients they work with. “Long Island Cares has distributed so much already and would love to see it continue, so clients have one less thing to worry about,” said Biscardi.
“Long Island Cares is so grateful to The Shelter Connection,” said Biscardi. Being able to provide the extra supplies needed to make the additional family member happy and well-fed is “a blessing to the different agencies and clients,” said Biscardi.
To learn more about Long Island Cares, visit their website, licares.org. Also, check out The Shelter Connection and their work with shelter animals at theshelterconnection.com.

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