A new Kelowna food bank is attempting to ensure all mouths will be fed this holiday season.
And not just the human ones.
The Animal Food Bank has been operating for about six weeks, with a goal to collect and distribute pet food and supplies to animals in need.
The idea came to the organization’s founder Nicole Wilks when she met a person experiencing homelessness and his dog, Odin, on Leon Avenue. As she was walking out of a business along the street, she saw the two and said she had to go pet the dog.
“His dog was lovely and he was lovely … But I couldn’t sleep that night because I was wondering how he feeds his dog,” she said.
Wilks began doing research and found there are very few resources in Kelowna for people experiencing homelessness with pets. With that and the dwindling donations of pet supplies to local shelters in the winter months, the Animal Food Bank was born.
“The benefits of owning a pet for somebody who isn’t homeless are huge,” she said.
“It’s like tenfold for people who are homeless.”
According to Wilks, the program endeavours to “bridge the gap” of an often unrecognized need for food banks and shelters.
Still in its infancy, Wilks said the food bank’s approach will change and adapt as it continues to grow but currently, three donation areas are set up at local businesses across Kelowna and West Kelowna.
As donation bins fill up, volunteers transport items directly to organizations that need them for distribution.
“As fast as I can get the food into the food bank, we have a spot for it,” she said.
“It goes into my garage and a day later, we’re distributing it.”
Donations are being accepted at Great Little Box Company at 3502 Spectrum Court, Total Pet at 1985 Harvey Avenue and Manchester Signs at #5-1718 Byland Road. Animal Food Bank also opened its first Vernon location today (Dec. 23) at Pet Planet in Vernon Square.