Okanagan pet food bank struggling to keep up with demand in pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan pet food bank struggling to keep up with demand in pandemic

FILE PHOTO - The founder of Animal Food Bank in Kelowna says they went from delivery about 150 pounds of pet food a week to 1,200 pounds after COVID-19 first hit B.C.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Animal Food Bank
February 21, 2021 - 9:00 AM

A little more than a year after a pet food bank opened in Kelowna, demand has remained steady amid the pandemic and even in the last few months.

Founder Nicole Wilks, with the Animal Food Bank, said they have three locations operating out of Kelowna, Calgary and Winnipeg.

In the Okanagan, the non-profit went from answering 20 requests at the start of the pandemic and is currently on track to see 80 requests by the end of the month, she said.

READ MORE: Pet food banks in Kamloops, Kelowna see dramatically different demand during pandemic

“It’s not getting better… the need certainly isn’t going down. I don’t think it’s going to get better until COVID goes away and people receive a bit more normalcy in their life,” Wilks said.

From April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, 25,000 pounds of dry food was distributed in the Okanagan, she said. The pet food bank will deliver food from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm “if we can find a driver going,” or if there’s a way for clients to arrive in Kelowna to get the food.

The pet food bank provides enough food to last for a few weeks, and people can fill out a form to request food once a month.

“I don’t know what to expect (this year), now we’re seeing the same spike in requests in Winnipeg,” Wilks said.

Since partnering with the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, there's also been an increase in demand.  Animal Food Bank flyers were handed out in December with regular food bank hampers.

“We went from 20 requests a month to 60 because of that,” Wilks said. “We see it a lot where people are sharing their meals with their pets… and so it’s really important that society starts recognizing the value that pets have in those people’s lives.”

That spike in demand over the winter months has continued, but she isn’t sure of the reason. The last three months saw a total of 159 requests, with 65 in January, Wilks reported.

“I expect us to go over 25,000 pounds (in 2021) easily,” she said.

Four Paws Food Bank in Kamloops had to suspend operations to make changes in light of COVID-19 and reopened at a new location at Trinity Church.

In 2020, the Kamloops pet food bank handed out 13,000 pounds of food, 1,600 cans and 4,000 pounds of kitty litter.

They declined to comment for the story but provided the 2020 stats.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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