Even during the holidays, the senior citizens who are fed daily by the York County Council on Aging want their pets to have a well-balanced meal.
"We've found that many of our homebound seniors were saving a part of their lunch to feed their pets," said Wendy Duda, executive director for the Council on Aging.
With about 800 stomachs to fill - not including the dogs and cats - the nonprofit organization needs all the food delivery help it can get, Duda said.
For the past 25 years, some help has come from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, which seeks to eliminate hunger by distributing food to nonprofit organizations that serve the hungry.
The Council on Aging prepares lunchtime meals five days a week for senior citizens who spend time at the agency's senior centers. The council also delivers meals to the elderly who are homebound, Duda said.
But, she said, that's not nearly enough for individuals who may not eat between those lunches.
"Many of our seniors have to make choices between paying their rent, buying their medicine or buying food," she said.
Senior citizens, many of whom want to live independently, still need assistance, said Debbie Hayworth, president of the United Way of York County.
Almost 300 senior citizens were on the waiting list for meal delivery last month, Hayworth said.
Via a program dubbed "Second Helping," Second Harvest provides food for seniors' pets as well as food boxes packed with easy-to-prepare food items to keep the seniors fed and keep the costs of purchasing meals down.
"It also allows us to send additional food out," such as fresh produce or snacks not usually on the menu, Duda added.
The holidays are no different. On Thanksgiving, Second Harvest provided seniors with boxes of ham, corn, dressing, cranberry sauce, yams and other festive favorites, Duda said.
Adding to an already-long list of partnerships, Second Harvest is one of five partnering agencies that comprise the Sleigh Bell Network, a collaborative effort to provide food and toys for needy families during Christmas.
The United Way of York County manages a shared database for the network, giving Second Harvest the ability to secure the distributed food at one of its four food warehouses, Carter said.
In addition to bringing food boxes and some nonfood items to the Sleigh Bell program, Second Harvest comes with a cost-saving advantage.
"We're able to purchase and procure food at a much lower rate" through partnerships with grocery stores, Carter said.
"We basically buy at their cost," she said. "We're able to get more bang for the buck."
When Sleigh Bell programs are ready to distribute food, Second Harvest employees and volunteers pack the food boxes and transport the containers of food to Rock Hill.
Headquartered in Charlotte, Second Harvest Food Bank serves 36 agencies in York County alone and provides food for the Rock Hill school district's Back the Pack program, Carter said.
The bank also allocates food to low-income daycares, soup kitchens and senior programs in the area, she said.
Serving up to 600 agencies within a 19-county region, the bank distributed 37 million pounds of food to nonprofits last fiscal year, Carter said.
Almost 3 million of those pounds were in York County.
Second Harvest's influence in York County has also taken claim to schools.
Through the Kid's Café program, Second Harvest partners with agencies serving children and donates nutritious meals and snacks to supplement the food the agencies already distribute, Carter said.
Six of the food bank's 40 Kid's Café stations are in York County, Carter said.
For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina or to donate, visit secondharvestmetrolina.org.
Empty Stocking Fund Donations
The following people or organizations have donated to The Herald's Empty Stocking Fund this holiday season. Donations to the fund can be mailed to 132 W. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29730 or dropped off at The Herald.
Judy and Jerry Redman, Rock Hill, $100
R.L. and Jan McCoy, Rock Hill, $100
Grady and Dorene Boular, Rock Hill, $25
Jason, Susan and Alex Silverman, Rock Hill, $75
Betty and Dave Hunt, Rock Hill, $25
City Awning, Rock Hill, $100
Mr. and Mrs. Charles K. Segal, Rock Hill, $200
Dr. and Mrs. Mark Landrum, Rock Hill, $100
Gordon and Jane Shull, Rock Hill, $100
Eloise, Greg and Gary Kimsey, Rock Hill, $25
Creative Cabinetry Plus, Fort Mill, $35
Hanneflore Fowler, Rock Hill, $25
Margaret R. Jennings, Rock Hill, $50
Elliott S. Close, Rock Hill, $500
Meredith and Barbara Bynum, Rock Hill, $100
Carl H. Covington, Rock Hill, $25
Delmar and Genevieve Long, Rock Hill, $100
Earl and Flicka Gault, Rock Hill, $50
Richard and Norma Denton, Rock Hill, $10
Keith and Betty Wright, Rock Hill, $25
Anthony Digiorgio, Rock Hill, $100
Mildred A. Moore, Rock Hill, $50
Bill and Joyce Petzold, Rock Hill, $25
Tom and Sharon Began, York, $100
Keyth and Betty Grubb, Rock Hill, $25
Dave and Marie Morton, Rock Hill, $50
Sara Crook, Rock Hill, $200
Blanche and Bruce Bryant, York, $25
Matt Turney, Rock Hill, $25
Will Guffey, Rock Hill, $25
Drew Turney, Rock Hill, $25
Abby Guffey, Rock Hill, $25
Frederick and Zella Dalton, Rock Hill, $20
Pat and Bo Youngblood, Rock Hill, $100
Jim Heckle, Rock Hill, $443
John Mannion, Rock Hill, $50
The Fan Man, Rock Hill, $50
Elliott and Brenda Bollinger, Rock Hill, $25
Buck and Jean Schwing, Rock Hill, $50
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Thomas, Fort Mill, $25
Swain Sheppard, Rock Hill, $500
Ray and Barbara Loflin, Rock Hill, $50
Larry L. Stroman, Rock Hill, $20
Vona Jackson, York, $25
Mathilde and Wolfgang Pester, Rock Hill, $100
Doris J. Bennett, York, $100
William L. Ferguson, Rock Hill, $25
Hannalie S. Ferguson, Rock Hill, $25
Stanley and Mildred Byars, Rock Hill, $25
Lad and Karyn Barnes, Rock Hill, $1,000
Mr. and Mrs. David Hammond Sr., Fort Mill, $10
Harry and Virginia Miller, Rock Hill, $100
Dean and Margaret McCarter, York, $25
Lucy Cox, Rock Hill, $10
Brown and Betty Simpson, Rock Hill, $25
John and June Shulte, Rock Hill, $50
Eleanor S. Boulware, Rock Hill, $50
Scot and Debbie Kiggans, Fort Mill, $50
Harold and Patsy Walker, Rock Hill, $50