A load of donated pet food, and Bailey, on the way to the Westside Community Foodbank. (Contributed Photo)

A load of donated pet food, and Bailey, on the way to the Westside Community Foodbank. (Contributed Photo)

Animal Food Bank expanding into South Okanagan Similkameen

Service to Keremeos and Cawston is set to start in the next couple weeks

Pet lovers can breathe a little easier and worry a little less about taking care of their companions when times get tough.

The Okanagan’s Animal Food Bank is expanding into the Similkameen in the next few weeks as they move south from Kelowna.

The Animal Food Bank works together with local food banks, and where there aren’t any they are stepping in themselves.

READ MORE: Over 11,000 pounds of food collected for Penticton food bank

“I’ll expand out as far as somebody will be a donation location, and I can distribute the food for them,” said founder Nicole Wilks. “Right now that’s as far as Vernon. The next logical spot for me was the Southern Okanagan into Keremeos and Cawston.”

After an encounter with a homeless man in Kelowna, and his dog Odin, Wilks was inspired to establish the Animal Food Bank to help an under-represented demographic. Helping pets and their owners also helps with supporting and relieving other supports from the community and government.

“What those pets do to save the taxing of the social services system, they help with depression, they help with addiction, they provide loyalty and love and companionship,” said Wilks. “The value they add to a person is immeasurable.”

READ MORE: Animal Food Bank looking to feed Kelowna’s pets in-need

After only a few short months, the food bank has expanded well beyond the boundaries of Kelowna.

“We launched around Dec. 17 and went through 2,000 pounds of food by Christmas,” said Wilks. “I think that was a spike due to the circumstances of the season. On the average, for a month, we’ve gone through about 700 to 1,000 pounds. The need is definitely there, and that is the passion in which we expand quickly.”

Bringing the Animal Food Bank to the Similkameen has been in the works for a while, as Wilks has her own history in the region, having worked on an organics farm in Cawston for a few years. The expansion has recently picked up a boost of support with additional volunteers offering their support. One is a resident in Hedley who regularly drives into Keremeos and the other is the owner of My Dog’s Paw mobile pet salon, who regularly serves customers in the region. The expansion still requires a place to drop off the food before it is distributed.

“Because we’re dealing with a bit more of a rural area, compared to Kelowna, the model is a bit different and we haven’t worked out those details. But with so many volunteers, those details tend to come together by themselves. We love our pets, and we love other people’s pets, and we just want to help all the pets.”

The Animal Food Bank isn’t going to be stopping at Keremeos any time soon, with Princeton likely to be the next location it will serve next.

“I just had a mental health worker reach out to me from Princeton saying a lot of their clients struggle to feed themselves, let alone their pets, and that this service would be very welcomed in Princeton,” said Wilks. “So now we’re talking about how to expand it out that way too.”

More information about how to get involved through donating or volunteering is available at the Animal Food Bank’s website and Facebook page.

To report a typo, email: editor@keremeosreview.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Animals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by Interior Health at Rutland Senior Secondary Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed at Rutland Senior Secondary

Interior Health lists possible exposure dates as Nov. 23-25, 27

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of Kelowna social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders nothing short of ‘complete depravity’

(City of West Kelowna)
Large West Kelowna housing development back on the table

Council considering rezoning to accommodate 184 housing units, project hopes for ~933 by completion

Kelowna videographer Noah van der Eerden details why he thinks Kelowna is the best city in his video. (Noah van der Eerden - YouTube)
Videographer shows off Kelowna’s beautiful sights in heartfelt video

Noah van der Eerden moved to Kelowna from Vancouver two years ago

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Courtesy of the World Health Organization
UBCO researchers interview caregivers for rural adults’ mental health concern

The researchers are looking for participants who live or have relatives in rural communities

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that's ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov | AFP)
WEB POLL: Will you take a vaccine for COVID-19?

Doses are expected to arrive in the new year

Travis Hirlaka, Vernon
PHOTOS: Sunrise paints Okanagan skies

Residents in the Okanagan captured stunning shots of a colourful start to Saturday

Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School were evacuated due to an electrical short that sent one person to hospital Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Vernon high school evacuated, one person injured by electrical short

Incident at Clarence Fulton Secondary forced brief evacuation Friday afternoon

Two Canadian petitions are asking to have elected officials removed from office. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: Petitions show loss of faith in democratic process

Online petitions from third-party sources have taken aim at elected officials in Canada

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

Most Read