A new local food pantry for animals has received permission form the Violet Township Board of Trustees to temporarily distribute pet food from the parking lot of the Violet Township Administrative Building on Rustic Drive.
Representatives from "Food Pantry for Animals -- Pickerington," a non-profit organization based in Pickerington, appeared before the trustees Nov. 21 to seek assistance in locating their operation on township property.
Food pantry coordinator Trisha Gerencser said it is the first animal food pantry run exclusively by students in Ohio and at least three other states.
She described it as a school-driven project run by 24 National Honor Society students from Pickerington North High School.
"The only thing we need is a place to distribute our food," she told the trustees.
Gerenscer said the organization is partnering with the Petco Foundation to receive money and food for distribution to families and their animals in need.
She said such a service is needed now more than ever as families often struggle to make a choice whether to feed themselves or their pets.
The end result is animals are either abandoned or starved or eat improperly by consuming human food such as tuna or spam obtained from a regular food pantry.
"We don't want animals surrendered to the pound, we don't want animals starved and we don't want animals abused," Gerencser said.
Alex Koenig, a senior at Pickerington High School North, appeared before the trustees to give them information about student involvement in the program.
"We're helping people by helping animals. It's a way for us to pay back to the community," said Koenig.
Gerencser solicited the township trustees for advice on how to makes the venture a success.
"I'm asking for your advice, we want to make sure we represent Pickerington and Violet Township with the level of excellence we're meeting in our schools," she said.
Trustee Gary Weltlich referred to his own experience as a board member of the Pickerington Food Pantry in advising Gerencser that sufficient funding will be necessary to meet logistical needs.
"Once we created (the food pantry) we were a victim of our own success, for the record," Weltlich said.
Gerencser told Weltlich that, while the organization currently lacks funding, it has received much in the way of donated food.
Trustee Terry Dunlap made a motion to allow Food Pantry for Animals -- Pickerington to use the township's parking lot on the weekend days, which was approved by a 3-0 vote.
Gerencser told the trustees she will get back to them about specific dates and times for distribution.
Gerencser anticipates having the animal food pantry in operation in the township building's parking lot after the Christmas holiday.
She said the organization is actively seeking donations for pet food and money and she is grateful to Petco in Reynoldsburg for the helping hand.
"Petco has approved us to be their charity in this area and (they) are going to give grant money and food," Gerencser said.
She said those wishing to donate money or pet food for the pantry can do so by dropping off items at Foot Solutions, 1302 Hill Rd. North in Pickerington.
For more information about Food Pantry for Animals -- Pickerington, call 614-863-1891.