SOLEDAD — A pet food bank will take place Saturday, Jan. 23, at Soledad High School, hosted by SPCA Monterey County.
Free pet food will be provided from 10 to 11 a.m. The Soledad location is a first, as prior South Monterey County pet food distributions have been in Greenfield.
“We just wanted to try a new location,” said Beth Brookhouser, vice president of marketing and communications for SPCA Monterey County. “We had a lot of questions from people in Soledad who were looking for a little help and were not able to get to Greenfield, and we also wanted to have a covered location during the winter months just in case it rains.”
Pet food distributions will focus on Soledad in the winter, but Brookhouser noted the SPCA does plan to host again in Greenfield as well as being on the lookout for centralized locations within South Monterey County.
“Soledad High School has the solar panels people can drive under,” Brookhouser said. “If the weather isn’t cooperative, we don’t have to cancel, we can still have the event.”
The SPCA operates a weekly distribution at its shelter site along Highway 68 outside Salinas, but hosts monthly offsite distributions — one in the northern end of the county and one in the southern end — to allow for more access. All residents countywide are able to show up to any event for assistance with their pets.
“Just because we hold it in Greenfield or Soledad, doesn’t mean you have to live in Greenfield or Soledad,” Brookhouser said. “If you’re able to make it to our event, we will help you.”
She added that those who make it to the weekly distributions at the shelter come from all over the county.
“We know there are people that don’t have that ability when we go to Greenfield or Seaside,” Brookhouser said. “We always have people showing up on foot or on bicycle. That’s the main reason we don’t just hold this at our shelter.”
The need for pet food has greatly increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a whopping 90,000 pounds of food provided locally in the past nine months. Previous years have averaged about 5,000 pounds given to the community.
“We definitely see the need continuing to grow,” Brookhouser said. “At every event we attend, we have more people coming to receive help, and we’re grateful to give it.”
Brookhouser noted donations coming in of pet food and money to buy pet food aren’t keeping up with the demand, causing the organization to purchase more food than past years through a bulk supplier.
”We are asking for donations of pet food or monetary donations that allow us to purchase pet food at a very low price to distribute to the community,” she said.
Food offered at the distributions is on a first-come, first-served basis.
After the Soledad distribution, another event will take place Feb. 6 in Castroville. Following that, the second distribution at Soledad High School will be Feb. 13.