The Sisters Kiwanis Food Bank provides a vital service to many families in Sisters - families who are struggling to get by in a high-cost town; families who need help getting through a crisis; families who don't have a home.

Now the Food Bank needs Sisters' help to continue fulfilling its mission.

"Our donations have declined year-over-year by 30 percent," Kiwanis board member Tom Hespe told The Nugget.

Donations dropped from 33,510 pounds of food in 2016-17 to 23,490 pounds in 2017-18 (October-September fiscal year). Cash donations are also down significantly - to the tune of $35,000.

"We lost a couple of major donors," Hespe said. "In order to continue the level of food distribution that we have at this time, we have to replace those donors."

The non-profit foundation that operates the Food Bank purchased about $80,000 worth of food last year - 51 percent of the total distributed. Foods like meat, produce, milk and eggs cannot readily be donated and must be purchased. Cash donations allow flexibility in what kinds of foods can be stocked at the Food Bank.

In FY 2017-18, the Food Bank distributed some 113,450 pounds of food to a total of just under 6,000 people.

According to figures provided by Hespe, the Food Bank served 3,711 adults and 1,324 children (to 18 years of age) and an additional homeless population of 731 adults and 182 children.

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 www.sisterskiwanis.org/food-bank.

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.

Hespe said the foundation is pushing to restore its level of donations.

"Ideally, we'd like cash AND food," he said. "Otherwise, we're going to have to change our business operating model. We won't be able to offer as much food."

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

Sisters Kiwanis will host an open house on October 14, from noon to 3 p.m. at 328 W. Main Ave. At 1 p.m. there will be a memorial ceremony and bench dedication for David Roberts, the Kiwanis member who managed the construction of the Food Bank building.

The open house offers a tour where visitors will see the state-of-the-art facilities and understand how local families choose their food "shopping style."

For more information on the open house, contact Suzy Ramsey at 541-419-0340.