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June 14, 2011

Kentucky Church Serves Community with Animal Food Bank

Now in its second year, the Church of the Advent animal food bank in Louisville, Ky. helps people, pets

  • Church of the Advent volunteers. Douglas Foster

  • Second Anniversary poster. Douglas Foster

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    Volunteers filling orders. Douglas Foster

Like many churches around the country, Church of the Advent, an Episcopal church in Louisville, Ky., organizes a monthly food bank to provide much needed groceries for many families in the community.

But when the recession hit, one church member wondered if the program should be expanded to help the family members not covered by spaghetti, peanut butter and other food bank staples: family pets.

Gail Bonnell soon began asking food recipients about needs for their pets. She discovered that many people were unable to give their pets the everyday care and services they needed most.

Animal food bank helps those in need

Then in 2009, the Church of the Advent pet food bank was established. Bonnell and her team of volunteers give out one-gallon bags of pet food for each pet in need throughout the Louisville area. On the program’s second anniversary last month, the animal food bank served more than 300 area pets and was forced to turn away many more due to lack of food. 

Although most of the food is generously donated from an area pet food supply company, the need far outweighs the supply, and Bonnell is continually finding ways to bring in more donations.

Partnerships form in local faith community

The demand for the food bank has grown enough that volunteers outside the church, including Baptist and Church of Christ congregations, have come to help distribute the food. Bonnell also receives help from the Animal Welfare Committee, a group comprised of seminarians from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. The committee collects food as well as unloads and repackages individual bags for the pantry.

"Human beings depend on animals for so many of their needs, yet the most vulnerable of all God's creatures are dependent upon our compassion and mercy," says Bonnell. "We have fallen short of our responsibility to protect and respect God's non-human creation. The Church provides a logical platform for demonstrating a commitment to all of God's creation."

Find out more about the Animal Food Bank at Church of the Advent.

To get more ideas for an animal ministry at your church visit our Animal Protection Ministries: A Guide for Churches.

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