Animals Matter: San Antonio Food Bank, Daisy Cares feeding San Antonio-area families and pets during coronavirus pandemicAnimals Matter: San Antonio Food Bank, Daisy Cares feeding San Antonio-area families and pets during coronavirus pandemic

Steve Santos of San Antonio is retired, but everyone in his home lost their jobs because of the pandemic, he said. He was relying on the San Antonio Food Bank to feed his family.

So when he discovered a mother cat and seven kittens in an abandoned box in his backyard this summer, he wondered how he was going to feed these new arrivals, as well. What he didn’t know was that the food back helps with dog and cat food, too.

“When I told them about the cats, they offered a few bags of food, which certainly helps out,” Santos said. “We can use the money we would use to buy cat food for other essentials.”

Santos is not alone in needing assistance with food during the pandemic. Normally, the food bank feeds 60,000 people in 16 counties. Since the start of the pandemic, however, the need has more than doubled.

Maria Alvarado, program manager for Daisy Cares, the nonprofit that oversees the pet food part of the food bank program, said demand for pet food has increased as well. Last year, the group provided pet food for more than 69,000 pets. This year through August, it already had provided pet food for nearly 80,000 pets.

“The demand for pet food has been very high during this crisis,” Alvarado said. “We’ve actually had a hard time keeping pet food in stock.”

In 2008, the food bank partnered with Daisy Cares to provide pet food for owners who might be struggling financially, so they wouldn’t have to surrender their pets to an animal shelter. Since then, pet food has been an essential resource at the food bank, ensuring families can feed their pets when they fall on hard times.

Eric Cooper, president of the San Antonio Food Bank said, “The strategy of offering pet food through our pantries makes sense. It ensures everyone in the household is nourished.”

If you want to help the food bank, there are a few ways to do it. With the pandemic, pet food drives are down, and some local food pantries have closed because they were managed by seniors concerned about exposure to the coronavirus.

If you can host a pet food drive or feel safe volunteering in your mask at a food pantry, let the food bank know.

You also can donate dog or cat food to the food bank or make a monetary donation at to help the group make bulk food purchases or to pay for the delivery of donated pet food.

If you need pet food assistance, contact the food bank’s helpline at 210-431-8326 or let them know the next time you visit one of their pantries. Everyone in your family can be fed.

Send your pet questions, tips, and stories to You can read the Animals Matter blog at and follow her at @cathymrosenthal.

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