The 5 Q's: Ann Leach celebrates 3 years of local pet food pantry

·3 min read

Jun. 6—In this weekly feature, we put five questions before someone in the community. Today, we chat with Ann Leach, the co-founder of Snowflake's Snack Shack.

1. What motivated you to launch a free pet pantry for the area?

Snowflake's Snack Shack started after I counseled a homeless client and his service dog. I asked about their eating habits, and the man said, "My dog eats when I do." I offered to make a call to the Joplin Humane Society and get some food for him, but he pointed out that he couldn't walk all the way out there and then be able to carry a big bag of dog food everywhere he went. I said, "No, but I could get some food, put it in a big Ziploc bag, and you could pick it up here and put it in your backpack each week."

That's what we did, and his dog loved coming to my office. I realized that "if there's one, there's many," and the idea was born. That was three years ago this month.

2. Where is the pet pantry located, and who can access it?

We serve at the Salvation Army Family Store on the second Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. From the very first month of service, store manager Mike Boykin and the team have embraced the project and welcomed us in, and I am so grateful to them for doing so.

Anybody can access the pet pantry. There is no proof of need required. It was never designed to feed an animal for the entire month, though — just to help you feed them for a few days to help you get through a tough time.

3. What types of items are offered at the pet pantry?

We keep it simple: just dry cat and dog food. If you'd like to give some treats, too, we know our furry friends would love them.

4. How can people donate to the pet pantry?

I am so blessed to have a wonderful partnership with the Joplin Humane Society. They store the food that folks purchase for the cause. We ask that if you're donating a bag of cat or dog food, you put "SSS" on the bag and drop it off at the Humane Society's front desk. Just tell the staff that your bag is "for Snowflake," and they'll get it to our shelf.

We're always needing cat and dog food. You can count on the fact that your donation will always be needed and appreciated by our area's furry friends and their humans.

If people have questions, they can message me through our Facebook group page, Snowflake's Snack Shack at https://www.facebook.com/groups/428920474582588/.

5. Why is the pet pantry an important cause for you?

Seeing the love between my homeless client and his dog really affected me. We all deserve to have food available to us when we need it. Being adopted by Snowflake and her two children and seeing them adapt to, and thrive because of, regular meals at my place showed me the power of a simple act of caring. We can all do something for others. It doesn't have to mean sitting in committee meetings for a year or having lots of money. Just take action and let it happen.

I am also looking for a volunteer manager to take over the monthly bagging of food and setup/take-down tasks of the food distribution day. This is the easiest volunteer project I have ever had and requires about four hours per month of service.

Visit Snowflake's Snack Shack on Facebook for any updates.

Ann Leach is the co-founder of Snowflake's Snack Shack, a volunteer-driven free pet food pantry for cats and dogs in Joplin.