DENVER (KDVR) — Since the COVID-era emergency SNAP benefit funds ended at the beginning of the month, families are feeling the impact. These emergency benefits were always meant to be temporary, but with inflation on top of high utility bills, families began to rely on them.
Now, pet parents are now struggling to feed their animals.
While you can’t use SNAP benefits on dog food, some families are strapped for cash and are having a hard time feeding their families let alone their furry friends.
Colorado Pet Pantry gives away pet food to those who are struggling. Already in 2023, Colorado Pet Pantry is seeing a 17% increase in the number of people needing pet food.
In 2022, they served a 30-day supply of pet food to 115,000 pets over the course of the year.
So far this year, if they stay on track with that 17% increase, they estimate they will serve 134,000 pets state-wide.
“In February, before the decrease even happened, just the anticipation of the decrease, we’ve already seen more clients coming to our pet food banks. At most of our pet food banks, we’re running out of pet food before the end of the day because we’re not able to know exactly how many people are going to come that day,” said Eileen Lambert the executive director of Colorado Pet Pantry. “So, we’re trying to brace for what might be coming.”
They’re ready for even more demand as an average family of four is getting $360 less in SNAP benefits on top of skyrocketing grocery, rent, and utilities.
Lambert said when resources for families to get human food decrease that leaves fewer resources for buying pet food.
Greg Sandoval said he was in the hospital with COVID and lost his job. He asked a family member to take care of his two big dogs and it was a big ask.
“One bowl is like three bites to him,” Sandoval said. “These two here eat quite a bit.”
They found Colorado Pet Pantry and now Sandoval gets comfort knowing that the food distributions will ensure his pets are fed and healthy.
“This place has really been a blessing to help me and my dogs get through some of the rough months,” Sandoval said.
If you need help, there are 103 different Pet Pantry distributions around the state including one on Thursday, March 16 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Community Ministry Building at 1755 S. Zuni in Denver.
They are always looking for volunteers and food donations, you can even donate an open bag of food your pet didn’t like.