Program helps low-income families keep their pets

Published on April 03, 2013
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Homeless man and his dog

The Pet Food Stamps program, a New York–based nonprofit, has expanded its reach to become nationwide.

The organization made the announcement in late February, only weeks after being formed by Marc Okon, who is also its executive director.

According to its website,, the program was created to fill the void in the United States’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps, which excludes the purchase of pet food and pet supplies.

As of December 2012, 47.79 million Americans were participating in SNAP and received a mean of $133.73 per month in food assistance, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Okon has said his program aims to provide “food stamps” for pets of low-income families and for SNAP recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets.

“As more families struggle with difficult choices like paying the rent or buying food, some have to choose between keeping their pet and putting food on the table,” according to the website.

Once need and income are verified, pet owners receive free monthly home delivery of food supplies, based on the pets’ needs, from online pet food retailer Pet Food Direct for a six-month period.

As of March 11, the program had just over 100,000 applicants covering more than 200,000 pets in all 50 states.

The PFS program is made possible by donations. Okon would not say how much in contributions the organization has received but noted that the program is negotiating with several large foundations and for-profit corporations to cover the costs of the entire pet food distribution program. Okon added that PFS is creating a TV campaign to further fund the organization; it is set to air in late April.