MELVILLE, SASK. -- The holidays are already a hard season to some, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than usual could need assistance from local organizations like food banks.

The Melville and District Food Bank has seen an increase in users as hours are cut at work and layoffs continue in the wake of the pandemic. The organization said it is always ready to offer a helping hand.

"Our important thing is you pay your bills first, that's the most important, your rent, mortgage, utilities and that, those are most important and then we can help you with the food,” Colleen Gorecki, the president of the Melville and District Food Bank, said.

The food bank's goal is to try and help get everyone in the family, including your furry friends.

For the past four years the food bank has been stocking pet food on their shelves.

"We believe that people should be able to keep their pets because it gives them a lot of comfort and as you can see we do have some pet items right now, but not nearly enough to help our clients," Gorecki explained.

Last month the Saskatchewan SPCA and Food Banks of Saskatchewan established the Saskatchewan Emergency Pet Food Bank to help keep families together during the pandemic.

The program aims to make these items available for pet owners, while also supporting a donation program.

A handful of food banks - including Melville’s - are participating in the partnership.

With the holidays approaching, Grodecki said the assembling of the Christmas hampers has already begun.

"We give everybody a hamper for Christmas and for the day after - for breakfast morning, so they get that and also then we do the toys so we've put everything all in one basket.”

While the food bank does try to get all registration for the baskets in by mid-December, Gorecki said it will accommodate those who need help at any time.

The food bank is always accepting donations, whether it be in the form of canned items or monetary. Cheques can be dropped off to mailbox 2342 and donations can also be eTransferred.

Bags are available for purchase at both Co-op and Independent Grocer.

The Meville and District Food Bank is open Mondays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., as well as on Wednesday’s from 5 to 8 p.m.

Those looking to contact the food bank can call 306-720-0358.