TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A local food bank is helping families to keep their pets fed throughout the pandemic. Volunteers also have an upcoming pet event to help bring in some holiday cheer while helping Arizonans rebound from the pandemic.
Donna DeConcini has been working with the Southern Arizona Animal Food Bank for about 5 years she says 2020 has been tough. The food bank is facing some of its biggest challenges. According to DeConcini the normal range of 30 to 40 calls per month have jumped to over 150 from families who desperately need help feeding their pets.
“We’ve been working out of our homes carports and garages. Monterey Village offered up the space to be able to move into.
The need has tripled for us with people who are looking for animal food because of the pandemic and people being out of work,” DeConcini said.
The non-profit group who recently worked from their garages at home just moved into a new location next to Beyond Bread at 6252 East Speedway. They are now renting a 6000 square foot building at a discount. It's set to be used as a distribution center, store and a workspace for around 30 local artists.
"This space allows us to get pallets from food companies dog food animal companies we can get semis of food and have a place to store it,” DeConcini said.
While some holiday events were shut down because of the pandemic, the animal food bank moving forward with their annual Santa paws event. Supporters can get a picture of their pet with Santa for $5 or you can get your picture for free if you donate a bag of food. COVID-19 safety protocols will also be in place. The goal is to raise money and help 200 families this holiday season.
“For many years we made pictures and put them in a folder, this year we are keeping our distance. They will take pictures from their phones on their own personal cell phones and then they can pay the elf. Anybody that comes to the store can bring slightly used leashes collars, bedding, toys. Opened or unopened food wet of dry food,” DeConcini said.
DeConcini says they are 1 of only 4 non-profit animal food distribution centers in the country the food bank is open from Sunday to Thursday from 10 am to 6pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 7pm. You will need to register online to pick-up a donation for your pet.