Another successful year! Thank you!

momCarol Ann Blair 8/1/1941 – 2/25/13

This year I dedicate my Kibble Kitchen end of the year letter to a special woman! Without this woman I wouldn’t have learned compassion, gained the strength to become a strong independent woman and learned the golden rule “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”

The world lost this wise woman on February 25, 2013, Carol Blair my mother was my number one fan and supporter. She preached to everyone she knew about the pantry and what I started, how the program helped and how proud she was. So this one is for you mom hope you are watching from up above as this year we are going to have an awesome adventure!

The New Year is here and it should mean that we will be stepping into great new adventures, breaking bad New Year resolutions, and dreaming of bigger and better days ahead of us. But 2014 for many won’t mean anything else other than thoughts of how they will continue, where will their next meal come from, or how will they be able to keep their home. Since starting my journey in January 2011, I have grown to realize that many people are suffering not only in my community but across the US. My original goal when starting the pantry was to provide pet food and it would help a family, but it has become a reality to me that providing pet food was only a small piece of the pie. This pie consisted of many pieces, each piece was more important & complex than the next and seeing this has made it very evident to me that the pantry was more than an animal organization; it was becoming more of a social service organization. I came across this data and it was exceptionally upsetting to me, 1 out of every 6 people Americans face hunger and in 2012, 16.1 million or approximately 22 % of children in the U.S. lived in poverty and an estimated 3-4 million animals are euthanized in the United States yearly.

Why are there so many people suffering such fate, going without food, heat, and basic staples. And why are so many animals being dumped, starved, abandoned and euthanized? The two problems seem to go hand in hand and since the creation of the pantry it has been a challenge to emphasis just how detrimental a pet food pantry can be to any community. Pantries are popping up across the states and in Canada, and the need continues to grow but the awareness does not. Pantries are struggling to keep their shelves stocked, cover their costs, and gain enough volunteers to carry out their missions, many closing their doors due to lack of support or even lack of cliental. If you could believe that one, but it is true an actual pantry in Illinois closed its doors due to lack of interested families.

The Kibble Kitchen found ourselves facing financial struggles in 2013, but it seemed every time an angel would appear & our problems were solved. Our office is in a 1300 sq. ft. store front that has been donated since 2011; however we must cover all utilities and commercial insurance. Months we struggle to even cover these costs leaving little money to purchase food, spay or neuter an animal or provide an emergency service. We were fortunate that we never faced a shortage on cat food, but did have to cut our dog food distributions in half due to lack of donations.  Fortunately we ended our year with a stocked pantry thanks to (2) large pet food donations, one from a private citizen and the other was granted to us from the ASPCA & Del Monte Foods.

These donations at the end of the year ensured January distribution was a guarantee but the New Year has great new adventures waiting, so stocking these shelves will be an everyday battle. We were fortunate in 2013 that we were able to assist others with an approximately 45,000lbs of pet food. This food was distributed to families facing hardship, shelters, animal rescue/adoption groups, feral cat colonies, and pet pantries across 3 states as our beliefs are working as a team yields grander results. Moving forward we want to ensure our shelves are always stocked, our location secure, and awareness flourishes so our efforts can continue to help additional families and other groups around the area.

We ventured into unknown territories in 2013, creating new programs, procedures, and joined forces with other organizations to promote low income spay/neuter certificates. These journeys have strengthened the organization, but have also taken us to the point in the road of needing additional funding to keep moving forward. The need for medical assistance and spay/neuter surgeries exceed the need for pet food assistance. It seems towards the end of the year 7 out of every 10 pantry inquiries were for medical needs verses pet food assistance. Families just do not have the funds but truly want to be responsible and do the right thing. However the average veterinary clinic is not within their reach. Several times we seen people sign up for food assistance, receive help to spay/neuter their pets, or received the needed medical assistance and we would not see them again. We figure that even if they never return we still helped an ailing pet, fixed an animal so it would never contributed to the overpopulation problem plaguing us today and in general promoted responsible pet ownership.

The pantry worked with families that signed up for food assistance to spay and neuter their companion pets. With the help of the Estelle Marcus Clinic, Spay Neuter Services of Indiana, and Independent Cat Society there were 145 animals that we aided in with spaying/neutering, vaccinating, and even covered the blood work and exams prior to their surgeries. Some of the other medical needs included exams, vaccinations for 2 pets that were involved in a home fire, removal of an eye on a 5yr other pets and we rescued 6 cats from unknown futures. All this will lead us in the direction of looking into additional ways to increase donations to cover medical expenses, spay/neuter surgeries and basic medical care.

For us 2013 was a productive year as you can tell! A little tiring at times but worth every effort put forth when you know you are helping someone in need. I have grown so much during this time and when I push harder, create new programs, and seem like I am going in 100 different directions it is all good! I eat, breath, and sleep the Kibble Kitchen; shuffling in my head all the different tasks that need to be accomplished or ways we can grow and help more. For the pantry 2014 brings great new adventures, bigger challenges, and a proud sense of our accomplishments! I know I am looking forward to these and what it has to offer but I also look at 2014 as a challenge.

Quick update for 2013:

  • The pantry received an award from the Portage Chamber of Commerce. The award was the Quality of Life and we were honored to be nominated!
  • 2nd Homeless Animals Event raised over $2500 and had 55 vendors join us for this day of awareness
  • 2nd Annual Spayghetti dinner raised almost $7,000 and 300 guests joined us for food, fun and wine!
  • Our 1st Snip Snip Hooray sign up was extremely popular with 129 animals registered with Spay Neuter Services Indiana for $10 spay/neuter certificates


Moving into 2014 here are just a few exciting journeys we will be taking:

  • Volunteer Meet & Greet on Saturday January 25th
  • Participating in the 1st ever 3 county wide one day of giving on February 12th, with the United Way & The Legacy Foundation
  • We will be changing the name of our Facebook page from The Porter County Pet Project & Kibble Kitchen to The NW Indiana Pet Project & Kibble Kitchen
  • The pantry will be opening up early spring to assist families that live within zip codes of Lake County: 46342 & 46405
  • Working to accomplish adding additional areas we will serve
  • Working with the humane society in Miller on a pantry to help families in that area
  • Looking for a larger location with loading dock to handle large amount of food & supplies
  • Potentially being open 2-3 days a week by March in hopes of servicing additional families with services
  • Adding additional board members and gaining a broad base of dedicated knowledgeable volunteers
  • Gaining a cargo van to be used as a mobile pet pantry

I know as the year moves forward there is the opportunity to add additional journeys and I can’t wait for those opportunities to present themselves.  I sit and wonder why the roads I continue to travel are blessed with so many opportunities. Why so many people believe in what I do, how they continue to support the pantry and commit to helping it succeed? I shouldn’t question it and I realize that, but one little idea and hard work has led to the continued success as a community organization and I am thankful for that!
I am so thankful for the dedicated volunteers that work so hard each distribution day, throughout the year and during our fundraisers. And what would we do without all of YOU our great supporters, contributors, business sponsors, and Facebook followers. We wouldn’t continue that’s what, the pantry runs on community donations and volunteer hours. In 2014 please consider making a monetary donation, donate pet related items, and pet food. I promise you your donation will allow us to continue our mission and ensure many more animals will be allowed to stay within their own homes.

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and I thank you for your support! Without you my dreams would not be coming true and without you there would not be a pantry. Donations can be made by visiting our website!


Michelle Duca

Michelle Duca

Founder/Executive Director

The Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry

© All Rights Reserved, Copy write 2014


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