Delivering compassion

Operation FIDO feeds pets and helps seniors get by
by: Barbara Adams, Estacada-area resident Thelma Ramsey, 89, feeds Kit Kat with pet food delivered by Trudy Hufman, the Estacada Home Delivered Meals Ani-meals driver.

The folks that receive hot meals through the Estacada Community Center's Home Delivered Meal Program are often unable to afford or prepare their own food-let alone their pets'. As a result, some of their meals were making it into the dog dish.

Operation FIDO came to the rescue.

Friends Involved in Dog Outreach (FIDO) is a countywide program that accepts cat and dog food donations, creates individualized packages and distributes them to local community meal programs.

Of the 39 Home Delivered Meal households served through the Estacada Community Center program, 18 receive an additional delivery of pet food every two weeks.

Trudy Hufman of Estacada became the official delivery person a year ago for the 'ani-meals.' Twice a month she heads over to the Community Center, loads her orange and tan two-tone 1982 Volkswagon van with bags filled with dry food, canned food and treats, and heads out on her 46-mile round trip delivery route.

Because the homes she delivers to receive a Home Delivered Meal the same day, she starts early so she won't be in the way when the 'people food' arrives.

'I don't like to slow down the food delivery for the Home Delivered Meals for seniors,' she said.

Hufman is a former Estacada Senior Center board member. She also spent time volunteering as a delivery person for the home meal program. When Operation FIDO started in 2005, it became clear that asking the Home Delivered Meal volunteers to also take on the ani-meal deliveries was too much. Hufman stepped up to do all of the animal food deliveries.

All of the pet meals come from donation boxes set up at senior centers throughout the county and Fred Meyers, who provides the program with pallets filled with pet food on a regular basis. Volunteer FIDO coordinator Jody Gruen of Oregon City picks up the prepared packages from a warehouse in Oregon City and delivers them to Estacada, Milwaukie, Hoodland, Sandy, Gladstone and Oregon City senior centers.

'It's a great program,' Gruen said. 'Seniors would feed their pets their Meals on Wheels because they didn't have money to buy dog and cat food-they couldn't afford it. Their pets are their family. Having somebody for them to care for really helps keep their health up.'

The Estacada Home Delivered Meal program delivers daily to households in Estacada, Colton, Redland, Viola and Garfield. Additional deliveries are made two times a week to Damascus and Boring. Fifteen volunteer drivers help the program succeed by driving five days a week: three routes three days a week and four routes two days a week. Meal recipients who want weekend meals also receive two frozen meals on Friday along with the day's hot meal.

For more information about the Estacada Home Delivered Meal Program, call 503-630-7454.