Friday, July 3, 2020

No Empty Bowl Pet Food Pantry II helps keep pets nourished

The No Empty Bowl Pet Food Pantry II is a new
initiative in Cumberland and York counties that assists
pet owners in obtaining food for their pets at no
By Elizabeth Richards

Backpacks for Homeless Dogs, a project of the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance, has recently expanded its reach to become a pet food pantry for anyone in need.  The name for this new program is No Bowl Empty Pet Food Pantry II.

For five years, Nadine Molloy ran the No Bowl Empty Pet Food Pantry out of her Waterboro home.  Earlier this year, when the undertaking became too large for one person to manage, Pittie Posse Rescue and Sanctuary took over the program. The new No Bowl Empty Pet Food Pantry II is run by Journey, who has no legal last name.

While working with the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance, Journey noticed that several of the homeless, especially in Portland, had dogs – and one woman had a cat. Inspired by seeing a homeless woman who had dogs help a homeless man with his dog, Journey began the Backpacks for Homeless Dogs project.  

“I started thinking if the homeless lady can help the homeless guy with a dog, why can’t I,” she said.  She, and others with the MHVA, began bringing backpacks filled with dog treats, food, and other necessities when they went out to help the homeless. “It snowballed from there,” she said.

Journey began receiving messages from others in tight situations, such as a woman who, at the end of the month, had to decide between buying milk and bread or cat litter.  She also helped families who had been homeless, got an apartment, and were suddenly faced with many bills to pay, by providing dog food for a few months to give them time to adjust.

“It kept getting bigger and bigger, and then the coronavirus hit,” Journey said.  Suddenly, people who never thought they’d have trouble getting pet food either couldn’t afford it, or simply couldn’t find what they needed.  There was a backlog at, and stores were thin on supplies, Journey said. “People started panicking,” she said. 

With three cats, a dog, and a hermit crab rescue, Journey could empathize.  “I just couldn’t imagine if I didn’t have a way to get my animals some food,” she said.  “I would be devastated.”

 “Some other folks who were giving pet food were telling people that if they couldn’t afford to feed their pet, maybe they shouldn’t have it. And they’re supposed to be helping,” Journey said.  “I put out [a message saying] if someone’s telling you that, please, please, contact me and I’ll make sure that you have food.”

News channels began to show interest in what she was doing, so Journey went on several programs and ended up with so many donations her entire living room was filled.

Molloy has been one of the biggest supporters of the Backpacks for Homeless Dogs program, Journey said. When Journey decided to launch a full-blown pet food pantry herself, Molloy offered to help get it set up.  Some donors who had given to Molloy’s efforts had already begun donating to Journey, and people recognized the name. So when Molloy gave her permission to use the No Bowl Empty name, “people loved it,” Journey said.

Molloy also donated a 12x16 shed that her father, a marine, had built more than 30 years ago to house the pantry.  It was hauled to Steep Falls, where Journey is located, and they’re renovating it to suit their needs.  “We’re slowly getting gall of the stuff out of the house and into the ‘Chow Hall’ so that we can sit on our couch again,” Journey said. The goal, Journey said, is to have regular days where people can come and get what they need, though that hasn’t happened yet.

Donations can be made to the project by contacting Journey through Facebook or the Maine Veterans Alliance website.  Monetary donations are best right now to help finish setting up the building and allow her to purchase the pet food brands people are already using to avoid causing stomach issues in the animals. The best way to reach Journey is through Facebook messenger to her personal Facebook page (Journey Ramsey), the Backpacks for Homeless Dogs page, or the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance page. Because the project is through the MHVA it has nonprofit status, and tax receipts for donations are available. <

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