The need can be great at this time of year, but it isn't just regular food banks that are feeling the pinch. A group that collects food donations for animals says its shelves are nearly empty.
The rescue group Heavenly Creatures runs a food bank for pets at its office on Cashin Avenue in St. John's.
"It's been busy. We've been operating it now for pretty much the entire 16 years of Heavenly Creatures history and I'm sure we've served thousands and thousands of people and their pets during that time," said president Jessica Rendell.
She said supplies have run so low they have recently had to turn people away.
"We get a lot of people who are on disability, people who have lost their jobs, seniors, people who are on social assistance … we get people who are pretty desperate, essentially."
The group collects the bulk of its supplies during the Christmas season, so it's been almost a year since the last major influx of donations.
Food and litter in greatest demand
They are most in need of wet and dry food for both dogs and cats, and supplies such as litter, litter pans and scoops and treats.
While some people do regularly rely on the group's food bank, Rendell said there are many who weren't in hard financial shape when they got the animal to begin with, but now find themselves in need of a helping hand.
"They're waiting for a cheque that's late, or they have some unexpected extra expense that month, and so they just need us to help bridge the gap and get them through a few days or a week or so," Rendell told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
Donations are also used to provide for some of the 60 to 100 rescued animals the group has placed in foster homes.
While some foster families are able to absorb the cost of caring for the animal, Rendell said many of them are students who can't afford the added expense of food and supplies.
The group is holding its annual Christmas pet food donation drive from Dec. 11 to 23.
Volunteers will be at the Heavenly Creatures office at 3-7 Cashin Avenue to accept donations Monday to Thursday from 6 p.m to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Monetary donations can be made on the group's website.