It's a first for Winnipeg Harvest.

Two Pet Valu stores have started collecting donations for food bank clients who have pets.

Harvest's Morgan Thomas said it will fill a huge need.

He said of the nearly 12,000 clients the food bank has every month, 5,000 have a cat and 1,850 have a dog.

"It's really astounding that an organization is coming forward to do this for our clients," he said.

"Pets are the most invisible (clients). I always say that pets are people, too, and our four-legged family members need to eat as well."

Stacey Cameron, who is operations manager at the Reenders and Rivergrove Pet Valu stores, is organizing the initiative, called "feed a pet for a day."

"We don't want people to have to choose to feed themselves or feed their cat or their dog, right?" she said.

"It's much easier if we can help them with that, solve the problem of feeding their pet, so they can worry about feeding themselves."

Customers can buy a $5 package for either a dog or a cat and leave it in the bin, similar to Winnipeg Harvest's bins in some grocery stores.

The Pet Valu package includes wet and dry pet food and a treat.

Cameron said the food is provided at cost, and the treat is a donation from the store.