A local nonprofit in Tucson that has been extremely effective in helping people feed their pets, is now expanding in the hopes of further helping the animal crisis in southern Arizona.

For the director and founder, Donna DiConcini, the mission for the Southern Arizona Animal Food Bank was simple.

“To be able to stop abandonment of all animals,” DiConcini explained. “And to be able to feed all animals one at a time, so that a person didn’t have to make a choice between feeding their families or feeding their animals.”

They give out pet food at their store on Speedway, where they also sell things by local makers and artists. The sellers donate part of their proceeds, and the money the stores raises helps pay for the food they provide.

Anyone who needs help feeding a pet, can just reach out online, put in an order, and come in.

We met Cici Olivar when she was picking up a few bags of dog and cat food.

“I’m an independent contractor, so sometimes there will be times when I’m in between jobs and I’m not working, and this really is a great supplemental resource for my pets,” she said. “And for me to kind of get through those hardships until I start working again.”

The food bank takes donations from our community, but sometimes they get huge shipments of donated food and supplies from Chewy or other organizations. They’ve been unloading at what was the old Hallmark store on Grant, and their volunteers load up their own cars from there.

“We have about 15 places in Tucson that we distribute to, and then 22 small food pantries that people forget about in all the smaller communities in southern Arizona,” DiConcini explained. “We have a substation in Wilcox now, and they supply for everybody that’s out in that area. And we have a substation now in Three Points. Last year, we did 652,000 pounds of animal food, but our work isn’t finished.”

DiConcini says our community has helped make this kind of effort possible, which is why they’re stepping up their mission now to get to the root of the problem.

The Animal Food Bank is launching an educational effort about the importance of fixing your pet, getting their shots and microchipping them. They’re also raising money to buy a huge RV.

“We’re going to gut it,” DiConcini said. “And then we’re going to make our own spayed and neuter mobile unit.”

She says they already have the RV lined up, they just have to secure the funding. From there they have veterinarians and vet techs signing on to volunteer, and she says vet schools students at the University of Arizona will be able to get credit working on their unit. She says it’ll be a lot of work to get there, but the payoff will be worth it in the long run.

“We’re trying to be able to do the education and spay and neuter as many animals as we can. We don’t want PACC to get 700 animals in a weekend. We don’t want the Humane Society to get 300 animals in a weekend,” DiConcini said. “And the cost is a big deal for people. So when we can do spaying and neutering for $5, or $30 and we go to them, that really just helps the community and all animals in general.”

If you’d like to support the Southern Arizona Animal Food Bank, you can donate through their website. Beyond financial donations, the food bank is also interested in finding mechanics who could donate their time to spruce up their mobile unit once they put it together, and they’re hoping someone can donate a ShopVac to them.

You can also give money or make donations in person. The Southern Arizona Animal Food Bank is located at 6212 E Speedway Boulevard.

If you need their pet food services, you can put in an order online.