Animal Food Bank Celebrates Three Years!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since we started this journey. Somehow in this journey, I have become a national pet food bank expert (which just speaks to the lack of nationally based programming addressing pet food insecurity).
What we have achieved together, is incredible:
– 585,270 meals provided
– 8,174 deliveries made
– 3,203 pets parents helped
– 66% of clients
no longer have to choose between feeding themselves or their pets
– 56% of clients
have not had to surrender their pets because we exist
– Zero funding
– Zero staff
The impact of one
I’m always telling anyone who will listen to never underestimate the impact of one thought, one gesture, one action, one question, one introduction, one idea, one conversation, or one action. AFB was Inspired by one chance meeting of a homeless man and his beautiful dog, Odin, in downtown Kelowna AFB.
From that was born one idea – to connect unwanted food destined for the landfill with pets in need. One conversation with my husband led to our mission to feed pets of the homeless and low-income. Operating out of our garage, with just my husband and I as volunteers, and a one-partner pet store as a drop-off location, we embarked on our mission to end pet hunger.
It takes a village
Here we are, three years later, operating in three provinces, with over 100 volunteers, and countless pet-store and community partners and supporters. We’ve provided over 585,000 meals (since we started tracking in April 2021) and completed over 8,100 deliveries. We are becoming a known force in the sector – a disrupter of sorts – and for all of this, I couldn’t be more proud, grateful and humbled.
What sets us apart
No means test
Meaning we don’t require people to prove they are having a hard time. We aim to make access to our services as low-barrier as possible, with pet food being the olive branch of trust we build with the human guardians we provide pet food to.
We always aim to provide enough dry food to last 30+ days.
We are hyper aware of the need to accommodate allergies and although we may not be able to provide the exact brand of food a client needs, we do always do our best to provide food that pet with any food allergies.
We don’t limit the number of times someone may access our services (but do limit it to once every 30 days in all branches except Winnipeg, which is, unfortunately, currently at once ever 60 days because we cannot keep up with need there otherwise)
We operate on the currency of gratitude and kindness Collaboration is the name of the game.
We believe we get further together than we do alone. Coming from the world of rescue I had always wanted to find a way to promote collaboration and sharing of resources versus competition and siloed operations.
To that end, we’ve worked really hard over the last three years to form a network of like-minded individuals and organizations interested in joining forces to make impact.
We have a number of sister organizations and we work tirelessly behind the scenes to share information and resources.
We built AFB on three foundations: Collaboration, education and awareness. We are also acutely interested in ending the competition within the non-profit sector that only serves to allow organizations that have become ineffective because of their size and/or poor leadership to continue to dominate the sector and leverage donations for their organizations on the work of organizations like ours, on the work of our volunteers, and our partners.
Pet food insecurity is a symptom
Food insecurity, in general, is a symptom of a bigger problem, and pet food insecurity is no different. However, pet food insecurity also comes with some very unique challenges that human food insecurity does not, because there isn’t any federal or provincial funding to provide these services, not even from Humane Societies and SPCA’s.
Some of our clients are employed, some suffer from mental health issues, addictions issues, homelessness, lack of affordable pet-friendly housing, lack of access to education, and training for basic life skills such as budgeting (although so we are all clear you cannot budget yourself out of poverty), communication, resume writing, skills training, how to be a responsible pet owner (I prefer guardian), and how to be a responsible pet tenant.
What we’ve noticed most is the need for access to affordable and subsidized veterinary care goes hand in hand with the need for pet food for our clients.
What success looks like for AFB My interest in AFB, when asked how I would define success, is in putting AFB out of business. I
want to understand why our clients need us so that we can work to address those root causes while we meet their needs in the crisis of lack of food.
AFB aims to:
– Meet the client in crisis (provide them with pet food)
– Stabilize the clients circumstances (provide ongoing support of pet food)
– Prevent the client from needing us (work to address the root cause of the problem)
Landfill or pet bowl
Our (my) dream is for AFB to become the national (and eventually) global resource for the intake and distribution of pet food. We have already tested the model and succeeded in intaking over 250 pallets of pet food destined for landfills, and distributing it out to more than 20 organizations in need.
Re-routing food from landfills to pets, and rescues, and northern dogs in need, is not only good for the pets, but good for the environment.
It costs money to transport and store, however, and so we will be working on some targeting fundraising campaigns as we aim to become Western Canada’s, and then Canada’s, distribution point for pet food for organizations helping happy loved pets like ours, but also for rescues and animal welfare organizations.
We do currently have an offer of over 400 pallets of food for the start of January 2023 that we need help on with transport and storage. If you or someone you know owns or works for a transportation company and/or storage/warehousing facility in Winnipeg, MB or Kelowna, BC
please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been an incredible year and I’m proud of everything we have accomplished. Thank you to all the volunteers — both big and small — who helped AFB accomplish our goal.
With economic conditions tough, 2023 is going to present a lot of challenges but by focusing on our mission and working together, I’m confident that we can achieve what we set out to do. We are shutting down for a few days From Dec 20th will see you all again online January 6th.