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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Cleveland County 4-H’ers help furry friends of Meals on Wheels recipients

STILLWATER, Okla. – Meals on Wheels recipients in Cleveland County are getting a little more than a well-balanced meal, thanks to some compassionate members of the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program.
Cleveland County 4-H’ers, from left, Gracie Moody, Karina Feng, Tim Whitehead and Jebidiah Stubbs, recently bagged up nearly 200 pounds of dog and cat food that will be donated to Meals on Wheels. Not only does the Meals on Wheels program provide nutritional meals for its 300 daily recipients, the program also helps ensure the recipients’ pets are well-fed, too. Also pictured, second from right, is Lynn Haynes, executive director of Meals on Wheels in Cleveland County (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

This community service project began a decade and a half ago with former Cleveland County 4-H’er Hailey Armstrong – and it’s still going strong.

For 15 years, 4-H’ers in Cleveland County have partnered with Meals on Wheels to help provide pet food to clients who are pet owners.

Lynn Haynes, executive director of Meals on Wheels in Cleveland County, said a driver delivering meals discovered some of the recipients were feeding part of their meals to their pets, because they either couldn’t afford pet food due to being on a fixed income, or because getting to the store was difficult. The average age of the clients is 85 years old, so limited funds and transportation are a couple of the issues these pet owners are facing on a regular basis.

“Once the driver brought this to our attention, we reached out to 4-H for help,” Haynes said. “Hailey was a member of the PAWS 4-H Club and very passionate about animals. She took the lead on the project and Meals on Wheels has maintained this working relationship for many years.”

She said they deliver 300 meals per day and about 100 of the clients are pet owners, so there is a big need. Along with the meals, they deliver about 1,000 pounds of pet food every month.

Brenda Hill, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H Youth Development and county Extension director in Cleveland County, said the club members get together about once a month to bag the pet food that’s donated.

“We bag the food into gallon zipper bags because it’s much easier for the Meals on Wheels recipients to handle instead of the large bags,” Hill said. “We get donations of cat litter, too, which we also bag into more manageable sizes.”

Not only are these smaller bags easier for the meal recipients to handle, it makes the delivery of the pet food easier for the Meals on Wheels drivers.

Fred, a Meals on Wheels recipient, is glad this program exists.

“I really appreciate getting the pet food delivered with my meals,” Fred said. “I don’t have to worry about Little Bit getting the food he needs.”

Hill said her club members depend on donations of pet food, as well as monetary donations. Several local businesses, including Country Boy Market on Highway 9, Tractor Supply and Atwood’s, donate busted bags of pet food that can’t be sold.

“We even had a request a few years ago for bird food,” Hill said. “We try to meet any of the requests we get. Over the course of the past 15 years, our club members have been able to donate more than 30,000 pounds of pet food.”

Jebidiah Stubbs, Cleveland County president, said he has been involved with this project for about three years. He is glad to see this project continue all these years.

“I like that this goes to help a local organization,” Stubbs said. “It’s good to help people who are just down the road. Our county officer team sees the importance of this project and this is why we continue it.”

Gracie Moody, Cleveland County treasurer, agrees.

“These people need help feeding their pets because their pets brighten their days,” she said.

For Tim Whitehead, who serves as county reporter, he enjoys the community service aspect of this joint project with Meals on Wheels.

“I like helping people,” Whitehead said. “Sometimes people just don’t notice when others need help. It’s so important for us as 4-H’ers to step up and help when we see a need.”

Karina Feng said this project has been a learning experience for her.

“I never knew there were so many different kinds of dog and cat food,” Feng said. “It’s interesting to see all the different varieties.”

Hill said this is just one of numerous opportunities her 4-H’ers have when it comes to participating in community service projects.

“The third line of the 4-H Pledge says, ‘I pledge my hands to larger service.’ This is just one way our club members can reach out to the community and truly live the 4-H Pledge,” she said. “Helping others through community service and service learning projects has always been a big component of our program and really enables our members to see beyond their own needs and make a difference right in their own communities.”

Haynes said she receives calls from other organization requesting information on how they can start a pet food collection project.

“I tell them to contact 4-H,” Haynes said. “They’ve been doing it for a long time and they can help other groups get started.”

Anyone who would like to donate pet food or money to purchase pet food for this partnership with Meals on Wheels can contact Hill at 405-321-4774.


Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078

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