News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Demand is up at Kiwanis Food Bank

Sisters Kiwanis Food Bank is vital to the food security of a significant segment of Sisters’ population. As the food bank moves into its busiest season, demand for its services is outpacing its funding.

Tom Hespe, who oversees the Food Bank project for the service club, told The Nugget that cash donations as of September were keeping pace with 2018, at just under $32,000. However, food expense is up four percent at $53,576 and the amount of monthly food distribution is up 3 percent at 118,489 pounds (9,874 monthly average).

The number of clients served is up significantly, among both families who have shelter (31 percent) and those who are homeless (34 percent).

What that means is that the Food Bank is in serious need of donations — especially cash donations — as it hits an especially busy time of year.

“This is not a marathon — it’s a sprint through the giving season,” Hespe said.

Cash donations are especially important.

“They’re No. 1,” Hespe said. “It allows us to be more selective about what we have on our shelf.”

“We have to buy 50 to 60 percent of our food,” said Kiwanian Doug Wills.

The Food Bank’s model allows its clients to shop for their food, rather than just handing them a box of whatever is on hand. That means families get what they really want and need. The Kiwanis Food Bank also allows multiple visits.

“The same families come back multiple times — we don’t cut them out like some food banks do,” Hespe said.

That policy makes the food bank more efficient and effective, with less potential for waste.

“They don’t take more food than they need,” Hespe said.

Food is distributed every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 328 W. Main Ave. (corner of Oak Street and Main Avenue). Donation criteria are listed at

To make a cash donation, visit the website and click on the “Donate” button.

Checks payable to Sisters Kiwanis Food Bank may be mailed to P.O. Box 1296, Sisters, OR 97759.

Food is purchased at Ray’s Food Place and Melvin’s Fir Street Market in Sisters and at Food4Less in Bend.

The Nugget is also conducting a food drive on behalf of the Food Bank during the month of November. Cash donations or food donations can be dropped off at 442 E. Main Ave. during operating hours (closed Wednesdays and weekend days).

The Kiwanis Food Bank operates under the Sisters Kiwanis Community Service Foundation, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. The operation is all-volunteer; none of the food bank staff, including the manager, receive any salary. One hundred percent of funds donated to the food bank are used to purchase food and operate the food bank building.

While cash donations are critical, direct food donations are also welcome. One of the most critical programs for the Food Bank through the holidays is the Christmas Bag Program conducted by Ray’s Food Place under the direction of Store Manager Jeff McDonald.

Patrons purchase food for the Food Bank, which is bagged and donated. In 2018, patrons purchased 750 bags of food.

“It’s a unique program that Jeff and we have worked out,” Hespe said. “Ray’s deserves a lot of credit for doing that.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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