Funding Will Assist Efforts to Keep Osceola County Seniors and Their Pets Together Amid the Pandemic and Beyond

KISSIMMEE, Fla., February 9, 2021 – The Osceola Council on Aging is proud to announce that it has received a $4,000 emergency pet food grant through a partnership between Meals on Wheels America and PetSmart Charities®. Funding will be used to meet an increased demand for the Osceola Meals on Wheels pet-related services and overcome infrastructure challenges due to COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. The Osceola Council on Aging’s Pet Program serves over 77 pets that includes 42 cats and 35 dogs.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds thru Meals on Wheels of America to assist our seniors with their pets during these difficult times,” said Wilda Belisle, Senior VP of Osceola Meals on Wheels. “Providing pet food is important because our clients will feed their pets before they feed themselves, so having the pet food will make our clients very happy that they know their pets will be taken care of during these challenging times.”

Amid stay-at-home guidance and other health and safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19, millions more older adults are experiencing the impacts of loneliness and diminished social connection. While pet ownership is known to lower instances of illness and reported feelings of loneliness among older adults and is particularly crucial during this challenging time, many face difficulties with procuring groceries, like pet food and supplies, on their own.

“As so many older adults became homebound practically overnight in the face of the pandemic, they also became shut off from critical social connections,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Meals on Wheels programs have been working around the clock to serve an influx of seniors in need of support over the past ten months, which includes preserving the proven powerful relationships they have with their pets. This generous funding from PetSmart Charities makes that possible.”

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A service that assists the frail, elderly, and younger disabled shut-ins by providing them with hot and cold nutritious meals. The service allows them to remain in their own home environment. Our mission is to end senior hunger by 2025. With the help of the community, we can make this possible!


Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 600,000 shelter pets each year. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting almost $430 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit

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Contact:  Kathy Pierson