Volunteer, donation-based food bank for Winnipeg pets asks for help amid 'all time high' need
Food bank received 250 to 300 requests for cat chow every month so far in 2023
A volunteer and donation-based food bank for cats and dogs in Winnipeg is desperate for help, as they say the need for their services is at an all-time high amid rising inflation.
Lisa Davis, manager of the Animal Food Bank's Winnipeg branch, says there are 51 cats in the city that they currently cannot feed because they don't have enough dry food for them.
The lack of food means about 29 of those cats could be surrendered this week alone, negatively impacting everyone involved.
"Our shelters are already overcrowded," Davis told CBC. "That's hurting the family, that's hurting the animal. We just want to help them."
People can request food for their furry friends by filling out a form on the organization's website, and the number of Winnipeggers doing so has steadily increased over the last few years, she said.
The Winnipeg branch has received between 250 to 300 requests for cat food every month so far this year.
"Right now, it's at an all time high," said Davis. "It hurts, because our goal is to work ourselves out of business. There shouldn't be a need for us, so right now it's heartbreaking to see the number of requests that come in."
Mandy Molinski requests food for her cats from the Animal Food Bank every couple months or so. The Winnipeg mother, who relies on disability benefits, has two teens and five cats to care for.
"It brings joy to me when I get a cat food delivery," she told CBC, adding that she has been making more requests from the food bank lately because of high costs at the grocery store.
Molinski said her cats help her deal with anxiety and her disability, but it has been a struggle to keep their bellies full lately, and it hurts that she's not the only one.
"It makes me sad, because I know that I'm not the only person in Winnipeg that needs food for their cats," she said.
"Sometimes, it's the difference between feeding my children or feeding my cats, which are also my children, so it's a very tough situation."
Support needed from everyone, anyone
Davis said there are many Winnipeggers having to decide whether to feed themselves or surrender their cats. "They're coming to us to ask for help to save them from having to do that."
Alongside fundraising efforts and calls for donations, the branch has been reaching out to any Winnipeg stores that sell cat food to see if they have any damaged or nearly-expired items to donate.
"Our biggest need is dry cat food. It doesn't matter what brand — we will happily take anything."
The branch has a few drop off locations for cat food in the city, but would like to partner with a local animal shelter so they can get access to funding and a permanent station for people to drop off and pick up the food, according to Davis.
"We're relying on anyone and everyone who can help us," she said.
"It's to help the pets, because they don't deserve to go hungry."
With files from Erin Brohman