Pet food banks in Kamloops, Kelowna see dramatically different demand during pandemic - InfoNews

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

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
April 15, 2020 - 1:30 PM

A Kamloops pet food bank is up and running after a few weeks off, but hasn’t seen the sharp increase in demand noticed at a similar Kelowna organization.

Four Paws Food Bank in Kamloops had to suspend operations to make changes in light of COVID-19. When it re-opened in a new location, it had less than half of the normal number of clients.

Erin McLurg, a volunteer coordinator with the organization, says they usually serve around 25 people per week during normal operations. On Tuesday, April 7, they helped just twelve individuals.

“We did think there was going to be an increase because of the situation with COVID-19 and people losing their employment and being laid off from their job. We were prepared for more and we will again prepare for more, but we were surprised,” McLurg says.

McLurg says most of the clients who take advantage of the free pet food and kitty litter are those in the vulnerable population who often use social services. Though the organization has informed such services of the new location, she’s not sure how many will be at tonight’s event.

“We were back up and running last week, and I think the word is getting out now for our new location,” she says. “It’s a temporary location, we’ll take it week by week, but this is where we'll be from the month of April and hopefully into May as well.”

Credit: FACEBOOK / Four Paws Food Bank

The new location offers a larger space for volunteers and clients, so social distancing measures can be maintained. The service is offered every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Holy Trinity Church at 109 Tranquille Road.

McLurg says the organization will consider a delivery service for clients if attendance continues to stay low. Since the attendance has been low Four Paws hasn’t struggled to meet a sharp increase in demand, unlike the Animal Food Bank in the Okanagan.

Nicole Wilks started the Animal Food Bank in Kelowna last December and has noticed the amount of food distributed weekly has risen dramatically.

“What has changed is the demand, it’s crazy. It went from 150 pounds of food a week, to when COVID first hit three or four weeks ago, we went through 1,200 pounds of food in one week, and now we hover between 500 to 700 pounds of a food a week, which is crazy.”

An increase in demand was also seen at the Central Okanagan Food Bank because of the pandemic.

Wilks says donations have continued to come in from pet food stores and individuals. Wilks hopes that as the situation unfolds, the need for pet food stabilizes, and donations will still be there to meet the demand.

“At first they said, you're only going to be quarantined for three weeks and then it was three months, and now it might be a year, so I don’t know what to expect long term. As the government funding comes out I’ve seen a little bit of decrease in demand, but not a lot.”

Wilks says the Animal Food Bank uses the same doorstep delivery method they’ve always used, which has proved to be a perfect fit in the time of COVID-19.

Both Wilks and McLurg say the organizations are uncertain of what may happen, and are welcoming help from the community. You can donate pet food, money or volunteer hours to either of the organizations.

For more about the Four Paws Food Bank in Kamloops go here.

More information about the Animal Food Bank in Kelowna can be found here.


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