National Food Bank Day

National Food Bank Day

National Food Bank DayNational Food Bank Day was first created in 2017 to celebrate fifty years since St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance was founded.  St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance was the first food bank in the world, and it was founded by John ven Hengel in 1967 to “alleviate hunger through the gathering and distribution of food while encouraging self-sufficiency, collaboration, advocacy, and education.”  St. Mary’s distributes 250,000 meals a day, as hunger can affect the lives of millions for many reasons: illness, the loss of a job, natural disasters, or a change in another life circumstance. But hunger not only affects people—it can impact animals, too.

Many people are faced with a difficult decision:  do I feed the family or feed the family pet? Financial difficulty can show up when it is least expected, and thankfully, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your furry friend.  Pet food pantries provide cat and dog food to pet owners temporarily, and distribution events are typically held on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. The goal of a pet food pantry is to help people keep their pets in their homes and out of shelters while they are getting back on their feet.



What Is A Pet Food Pantry?

National Food Bank DayA pet food pantry is a non-profit organization that temporarily feeds pets, allowing families to continue to care for their animals with the goal of keeping them out of shelters and with their owners.  Some pet food pantries are open to the public, and pet owners are able to get food for a specified amount of time (ex. some pet food banks provide food every two months). Pet owners that visit the pet food bank will typically be asked to fill out a registration form, and asked to agree that the supplemental pet food is only provided for existing pets.  If additional pets are added after registration, they will not be served. If you need pet food before a public event is held, some pantries can offer help, so check your local pet food pantry website!


Common Program Guidelines

  1. Most pet food banks will ask that pet owners submit an application with proof of financial need and proof of some vaccinations.
  2. Most pet food pantries cannot deliver food to homes- clients will need to come to an established location at a designated time to receive food.
  3. Pet food pantries only provide short-term assistance to those who need help.  These programs were created to help as many pets as possible, and many cannot help any one family for more than a year or two.  Check your local pet food pantry for specific information.


How You Can Help

Donate to your local pet food pantry to help them keep their doors open! Pet food pantries are always in need of cat or dog food, as well as cat litter.  It is important to know that pantries cannot accept open or expired food, so please make sure your donations are new and fresh!


Want To Start Your Own Pet Food Bank?

The number of pet food banks nationwide is growing, and you can be part of the movement!  Here are some tips on how to start your own pet food bank in your area:

1. Make a business plan.  Figure out what your start-up costs will be, your long-term costs, and the services that you will provide.  Then, find committed individuals that will serve on the board of directors.

2. File for nonprofit status. A nonprofit status will allow donors to write off their product donations and financial contributions.  It will also allow your organization to be eligible for grant programs and corporate donations.

3. Decide on a location.  Find out where current pet food banks are located, and be sure to pick an area that has a current need.

4. Find collection sites. Contact local businesses in the area to see if they would be willing to serve as drop-off locations for donations.

4. Find volunteers.  Put up flyers in schools, churches, animal rescues, etc. to recruit volunteers. Volunteers are a vital part of a pet food bank, as they can assist with collections, distributions, pet food drives, and repacking food into smaller portions.

5. Decide on a schedule.  Most pet food banks are only open one or two days during each month.  Pick a day that works for you and your volunteers- weekends are typically preferred!

6. Advertise.  Make sure that families that are experiencing financial hardships can find your information.  Advertise in churches, animal shelters, humane societies, etc.


How will you celebrate National Food Bank Day?