RAPS Pet Food Bank
Donations welcome to support animals in households with low incomes
Caring for animals is the RAPS mission. That means abandoned, surrendered, stray and at-risk animals. But the staff and volunteers of RAPS – with the generous support of partners in the community – also go out of our way to provide pet food to households with low incomes so that no person ever has to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their companion animals.
The RAPS Animal Food Bank has been around for many years and depends on the kindness of individuals and businesses. People drop off pet food, while retailers and wholesalers provide a large amount of canned and dry pet foods. Frequently, these are products that have had their packaging damaged in transit or in the store and therefore are unlikely to sell.
Nadia Xenakis, who works at the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter, inventories the supplies and keeps track of the food. When product arrives, she sorts it by animal and type … dry dog food is separated from canned cat food and so forth.
Depending on the month, Nadia estimates, the RAPS Pet Food Bank hands out $500 to $1,000 worth of pet foods to members of the public.
“The things we are lacking are cat food – dry food and wet food,” she says. “That’s because all the food I organize here also get sent to the Cat Sanctuary and I have to set that aside and that’s a huge amount of food. I don’t think we’ve ever had enough.”
There are more than 400 cats living at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, so there is always a need.
“Dog food we usually have a little bit of excess and that usually goes to community assistance,” Nadia says. For example: “We have really lovely people from an organization that helps abused women, and what we have extra we’ll give it to them and they’ll share it.”
While much of the food comes from Richmond-based pet stores and other businesses, some of the donations come from individuals.
“There are some awesome people who will stop by every week with a bag of dog food or maybe some canned cat food,” she says. “We also have worked with a lot of great pet stores. They’ve let us put bins in their store where the public can donate directly.”
When someone needs food for their animal companions, there are no questions asked.
“Folks can come in when they’re on hard times and they can’t afford food for their pets or they’re experiencing something,” says Nadia. “They can come by and get food for their pets. If you have a specific type of food you need — we have people whose dogs are allergic to some things — or whether you need large-breed food or whatever they need … I keep a list of the food that’s available and the receptionist can check and see what we have, let them know and if it meets the requirements they can just walk in and get it.”
RAPS also shares excess inventory with the Richmond Food Bank, in order to reach more people with animals but who may not know about our Pet Food Bank.
Donations for the RAPS Pet Food Bank are welcome! We ask for unopened, unexpired bags or cans of dog or cat food. The inventory is kept at the City Shelter – which is where people can access the pet food they need – but contributions are welcome at any RAPS location.