'Pets matter too,' says the York Region Food Bank, which is planning to expand its pet food pantry program.
The Food Bank of York Region (FBYR) presently sponsors three animal-related groups and is eager to expand its reach by onboarding additional organizations that run or want to start a pet food pantry.
In 2021, the FBYR's network sourced, collected, and distributed over 36,500 pounds of pet food and goods.
"A lot of the families we support and help feed have pets, and they, too, need to eat," said Alex Bilotta, FBYR's founder and CEO.
"Because pets matter, we're devoted to assisting people and organizations that support the well-being of animals in York Region while also combating food poverty for York Region citizens."
While providing for its feral cat program, FBYR has created a collaboration with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and the Humane Society.
Since 2016, the Vaughan-based FBYR has supported both animal shelters and family pets. The cooperation began when Bilotta approached the OSPCA and Humane Society in Whitchurch-Stouffville about helping their organization.
"Food is getting to the animals who need it most thanks to partners like the York Region Food Bank. We appreciate the help we've gotten in stocking our community cat food pantry, which nourishes a vulnerable and sometimes overlooked group of animals "Monica Seto, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society's manager of shelter health and wellness, stated.
Rescue Angels in Richmond Hill and Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge in Georgina are two other non-profit animal charities that the FBYR sponsors.
It also delivers pet food on demand through its home delivery service, as well as to local food pantries and social housing cooperatives.
The FBYR receives locally sourced and donated pet food and items from different retail businesses throughout the region.
Visit fbyr.ca/community-partners/ for more information about the pet pantry program and collaborating with the FBYR.