Greater Good

Beloved Paws

Don't Forget to Feed Me Pet Food Bank (DF2FM)

A heartwarming organization working to keep pets with their families

Article by Shannon Stewart Salinsky | Photography by Jill Johnson

Devoted, loyal and loving in a way that is truly unconditional are just some of the things that I associate with my dog. There she is, day after day without fail. She stands in the doorway to greet me with her wet nose and tail that thumps the washing machine in a beat more precise than any percussionist. In our home, the pet isn’t really a pet at all, she’s a member of our family. Most people I know feel the same way about their beloved four-legged kids. The thought of having to choose between feeding her or feeding another member of the family is unimaginable, but this is a sad situation that is faced by more people in our community than you may realize.

THE HISTORY | The idea and dream behind Don’t Forget to Feed Me Pet Food Bank (or DF2FM) originated over 20 years ago by Terry Woodfin. “I had been with the Amon Carter Foundation for nearly 30 years and during my first few years there, I had an idea to start a pet food bank. Encouraged by my boss, I contacted Pat Mohler who was the founder of Tarrant Area Food Bank (or TAFB).”

At the time TAFB had been in existence less than five years and conducted its business out of a mini storehouse which was very tight quarters. “Pat told me she’d love to add pet food, but barely had storage or funds for its own mission. So, the idea sat on the back burner for the next 20 plus years. Then, in 2008 when many families lost their homes and jobs, it caused them to abandon their pets, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Star-Telegram—it was published.”

The TAFB informed Terry that they had been contacted by Channel 8 News and it wanted to hold a pet food drive. It was then that Terry was introduced to Kim Pearson, the other cofounder, and as they say, the rest is history. TAFB agreed to let the new pet food organization move forward as an initiative under its umbrella. The first meeting consisted of eight women who knew each other only by networking.

“I was the first and continued to serve as president for a period of time—and it was the most rewarding and enlightening thing I’ve ever been honored to be part of. These folks are the most dedicated individuals you will ever find and I feel that we’ve truly made a lasting impact on our community that will only continue to grow and serve,” said Terry.

DF2FM quickly grew, and in September of 2010 set up independent office space and began a distribution partnership with Community Food Bank. In 2011, it began a distribution partnership with The Community Storehouse in Keller. Wesley Mission Center in Mansfield began distributing pet food in 2013.

THE MISSION | The mission of DF2FM is to keep pets with their families. By providing pet food for those in need during challenging financial times, it hopes to provide an option to surrendering—or even worse, abandoning—a beloved family pet. DF2FM is the only social service agency in the Metroplex focused solely on directly assisting pet owners with pet food. By keeping its focus on this one issue, it is able to address this specific need efficiently and quickly. DF2FM does not attempt to duplicate services offered by other organizations or agencies.

Many local agencies report that as they provide food to persons in need, a pet owner will often choose to go without food him or herself, to ensure their companion animals are fed. Approximately 2/3 of Americans are pet owners and the need to provide pet food to pet owners experiencing economic uncertainty is real and immediate. By providing pet food, DF2FM not only ensures that owners are able to feed themselves, but that pets receive food that is nutritionally appropriate for animals.

THE OPERATION | Tending to the daily functions of DF2FM is Liesl Manone, Director of Operations. Last year was one of the best on record for donations. There were over 153,708 lbs (76.9 tons) of dog and cat food donated in 2013. This roughly translates to 614,832 meals for almost 200,000 pets. To compare, in 2012 it collected 106,833lbs of food (or 53.4 tons).

“The most rewarding part of working for Don’t Forget to Feed Me Pet Food Bank is meeting actual pet owners and their pets who have been directly affected by our efforts. When someone tells me how they have been able to keep their beloved companion because of the care and generosity of the people of this community—that is the best reward we could ask for. As a lifelong pet mom myself, I know how animals really are family members. To see the joy and love in the eyes of both the owner and the animal, and know that they are together because of the efforts of Don’t Forget to Feed Me Pet Food Bank, is truly a blessing,” said Liesl.

Most of the food needed is for dogs and cats. Occasionally DF2FM receives donations of pet food for other animals, like bird, fish, hamsters, rabbits or reptiles. This usually happens when a child has hosted a pet food donation drive for his or her birthday party or through a scouting troop, etc. It is a wonderful reminder that children care for many types of animals and that cats and dogs don’t have exclusive rights to family status!

GET INVOLVED | A non-food item of which DF2FM is in constant need is gallon-size zip lock bags—any brand. These bags are used to distribute dry pet food to clients at all of its distribution partners. Large bags of dry pet food are broken down into smaller units for distribution.

There are two simple things people interested can do right now that can make an immediate difference—donate pet food and/or donate money. Because there are over 50 pet food donation collection sites across the Metroplex, donating pet food is easy. Simply pick up an extra bag of pet food when you’re shopping and drop it into one of the collection boxes. Supporters may even shop online via its wish list and have pet food shipped directly to Don’t Forget to Feed Me. Monetary donations make a huge impact. With a private arrangement between DF2FM and a local business, it is able to purchase high quality pet food at a deep discount.

Volunteer opportunities include staffing outreach events, monitoring donation collection boxes, even helping in the DF2FM office. In addition, anyone can host a pet food drive—companies, neighborhood groups, families, faith based groups, scout troops, anyone! DF2FM can assist by promoting pet food drives and even supply support materials.

For information about how to get help to feed a pet, call one of the distribution centers. There are three locations in the Metroplex:

  • Community Food Bank in Fort Worth—phone: (817) 924-3333
  • Community Storehouse in Keller—phone: (817) 431-3340
  • Wesley Mission Center in Mansfield—phone: (817) 473-6650.

Don’t Forget to Feed Me Pet Food Bank—P.O. Box 471277, Ft. Worth, Texas 76147—phone: (817) 334-0727

DF2FM EVENTS | Don’t Forget to Feed Me hosts two annual events and is currently seeking corporate sponsorships for both events. Interested parties should contact Liesl Manone at (817) 334-0727.

  • May: Happy Tails Ice Cream in in the Park
  • October: Glowing on the River

TESTIMONIAL | Four years ago Lois was living alone and on disability, when her sister found a stray Pomeranian—dirty, scared and also alone. Lois took her in, cleaned her up and called her Mattie. “All her fur was matted up, so maybe that’s where her name came from,” jokes Lois.

Lois and Mattie became constant companions. “We go everywhere together. She loves to ride in my little red truck. She thinks it’s her truck! I talk to her—and she listens. She talks back to me with her eyes. She’s my protector, too—a little guard dog! She’s a joy. I love her like she’s my child,” says Lois.

Then, Lois was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Medical bills started coming in. I didn’t know what I was going to do with Mattie. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to feed her or even keep her.” In February, Lois turned to the Community Food Bank, a Don’t Forget to Feed Me distribution partner, for groceries. “I came to get my food and they asked me, if I needed dog food, too. I was so relieved. I didn’t want to lose my Mattie Pattie Cake.” Now, Lois picks up food for herself and Mattie every two weeks.

“Thank you to the people who donate to Don’t Forget to Feed Me. It is so essential. Just because someone is poor, doesn’t meant they don’t love their animals,” says Lois. Because of your help, we can stay together now. Thank you!”