'We are desperate': Animal Food Bank receives record number of requests
The need for pet food is at an all-time high, according to the Animal Food Bank, which is seeing record demand during the start of 2022.
The Animal Food Bank currently supplies animal food to people in two provinces, Manitoba and B.C., with the goal of ending food insecurity for pets.
Nicole Frey, the food bank's founder, said it's received an influx of requests since reopening after a short holiday break.
"We reopened on Jan. 8, and we have 112 requests in our queue as of this morning," said Frey. "So we normally on a busy month we see 250 to 300 requests. So if this keeps up, we're on track for 450 requests this month, which is our record, and I can only assume it is part and parcel for Omicron and just what we're seeing in the economy and society and lockdowns."
The recent two-week break is the first time the organization has closed since opening in 2019. Frey said it was well deserved, as last year was the organization's busiest.
"So what we saw in the year before is an increase in demand."
Frey said the demand rose and fell as government benefits were doled out and increased again during the holiday season.
On top of pressure from the pandemic, the Animal Food Bank also helped with several natural disasters in 2021.
"I think in the first 48 hours of the fires, we had sent 3500 pounds of food, and it was just scrambling to try and get all over the province to evacuation centers and organizations that were helping service pets," said Frey in reference to the B.C. wildfires last summer.
"Then floods hit, and it was 100 times worse. It was crazy because we had supply chain issues as well, and the highways were cut off, and we ended up sending about 10,000 pounds of food in 10 days out of Alberta actually."
The food bank's year-end report showed a 30 per cent increase in requests for its services, going from 2,200 requests in 2020 to 3,200 in 2021.
According to the report, the Animal Food Banks gave 63,270 meals to dogs and 152,990 meals to cats in 2021.
Frey said the food bank is looking for donations to meet the high demand.
"We are desperate for dry cat food right now," she said. "You'll see in our stats that we see far more many meals to cats than we do dogs in Winnipeg, and so we're always, always, always in need of I need of dry cat food."
Frey said the organization is also looking for people to donate their time and gas as delivery drivers.
"We can only deliver as fast as our drivers can pick up and take to our clients, and so with 112 requests coming in within the last seven days, we are desperate for drivers."
Moving forward into 2022, Frey said she is hoping the demand starts to level off and the food bank can start working on other projects.
"We have so many other initiatives that are waiting to be promoted or to take it off the ground. We want to look at sponsoring pets for low-income kids. We want to look at welfare clinics where we vet and do heartworm tests and things like that."
More information on donations and volunteering can be found on the organization's website.
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