WATERBORO, Maine — For seven years, Nadine Molloy has been running the No Bowl Empty 2 Pet Food Pantry out of her East Waterboro garage. It's a mission she has been passionate about, since closing down her animal rescue facility to do so.
"I call myself the kibble queen," Molloy said, laughing.
Molloy said now, she is serving 1,352 pets per month. Most of them are cats and dogs, although some are smaller animals, like gerbils and hamsters. Molloy said that's almost double the roughly 700 pets she was serving at this time last year.
She said most of her clients are either elderly living on fixed incomes, people experiencing homelessness, or just community members trying to get by with what they have.
"We’re judgment free," Molloy said. "I don’t require that you prove income or prove need."
Molloy said big factors of need have been job loss during the pandemic and the current state of the economy.
The 501c3 pantry hasn't been immune to inflation's effect, either. Last week, Molloy put out a call for help on Facebook, saying she had to cancel distributions on two days in June. That post got people's attention.
"We started getting immediate shipments of food and litter — canned food, dry food, toys," Molloy said.
For Mainers like Jean Smith of Steep Falls, that call-to-action has been crucial. She was at the pantry on Tuesday to collect food and toys for her senior cat and two dogs.
"I would feed my pets before I fed myself," Smith said. She lives on a fixed income as an elderly woman and said adjusting to skyrocketing prices everywhere has been challenging.
"It has been quite a struggle," Smith said.
Michelle Cobbett of Standish is a friend and off-and-on client of Molloy's. She also volunteers to help give back to the pantry, which has helped her feed her bunny, cat, four dogs, fish, frog, and three lizards as a single mom.
"I probably spend about 300 bucks a month between bedding, food — everything," Cobbett said.
She said she has noticed prices going up lately, too — even at the pet store.
"[It] may have been $1.58 for a can before, and now it’s $1.78," Cobbett said.
Molloy said the recent monetary and supply donations she received will last about a month. If you would like to help out with the cause — or if you need help yourself — you can visit the pantry's Facebook page. Molloy said she serves people from Androscoggin and Oxford Counties.