Animal Food Bank asking for donations to help feed pets

WINNIPEG — The Animal Food Bank in Winnipeg is calling on Winnipeggers and Manitobans to help provide meals for pets.

The organization opened its door in Winnipeg in February 2020 and has been providing food for animals who live in low and no-income households.

Nicole Wilks is the founder of the Animal Food Bank and said before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were doing around 20-25 requests for food and supplies a week.

“When COVID hit, we did 20 to 80 a day. It was insane,” said Wilks.

The demand did die down when CERB kicked in from the federal government, Wilks said they went back down to the 20-25 requests a week range, but it didn’t last.

“When (CERB) ended on Oct. 3, the week before that we saw our demands spike again and right now we are getting around 10 to 20 requests a day.”

The food bank operates through donations and Wilks said with Manitoba being in code red, many of the fundraising events were cancelled, which has made the not-for-profit tight for cash to purchase more supplies, with Wilks saying the current situation is not sustainable.

She said they have partnered with several pet stores and other organizations, such as the Winnipeg Humane Society, but even with the food and money that they brought in recently, the food bank is almost running out.

“We don’t qualify for funding anywhere and so one of the things that I have learned over the last year of doing this, is that animals are not a mandated service of a traditional food bank.”

Wilks is calling on anyone and everyone to help out if it is possible, noting they are in desperate need of cat food.

If they aren’t able to get enough supplies for those that they help, Wilks fears this could have a huge impact.

“What I would love people to understand the most, people will go without feeding themselves to be able to feed their animal. So our service is hugely important to be able, not only benefit the pet, but benefit the owner.”

Wilks hopes that they won’t have to implement other measures to ensure they have enough food, such as reducing the number of times someone can receive a donation, from once a month to once every two months or even reducing the amount of food given.

If people want to donate food or money, they can do so by visiting the Animal Food Bank’s website.

Since the beginning of April, the food bank has given around 18,000 pounds of dog and cat food, and around 3,450 cans of food for both animals, in over 1,000 deliveries.

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