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home : current news : current news July 16, 2018

7/3/2017 1:05:00 PM
Food Bank adopting 'shopping style'
Kerry Bott demonstrates “shopping style” at the food bank. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Kerry Bott demonstrates “shopping style” at the food bank.
photo provided

The Kiwanis Club of Sisters Food Bank has provided food to low-income Sisters-area residents for 30 years. Big changes are afoot that affect the food bank building, clients and food bank volunteers.

Since the Kiwanis food bank is licensed, it is subject to policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Food Bank. The Oregon Food Bank is strongly urging food banks to adopt a "shopping style."

Currently, food bank volunteers provide food boxes to the clients who don't have access to the food shelves. The clients can specify items they don't want but have little choice as to what's in their box.

In "shopping style" the clients browse the shelves as they would at any grocery store. This allows client shoppers to examine the food, read the labels, touch the produce and squeeze the bread. They have the freedom to choose foods they will actually use.

This atmosphere of participation and choice lends dignity and respect to an experience that can be difficult and humbling for many.

Also, food bank volunteers report, "shopping style" reduces wasted food. It's hard to determine the amount of such waste, but food bank volunteers are certain it's considerable due to clients getting unwanted food in their box. There is also increased opportunity for nutrition education through recipe cards, taste tests and discussions with Kiwanis volunteers.

Operations Manager Naomi Rowe is working hard preparing for this major change: "I am looking forward to trying this out," she said. "We are flexible and hardy and we can do it."

At the same time, with Oregon Food Bank support, food bank management has recognized a need to upgrade its freezers and refrigerators. The food bank building, constructed in 2013, is state-of-the-art except for the cold storage. Frozen/chilled food is kept in nine older units. The food bank has decided to replace those units with a modern walk-in freezer/refrigerator with glass storefront doors. There are a number of reasons for doing so:

First, "shopping style" demands that clients see the products. It is not feasible for shoppers to open nine refrigerator doors looking to see what's there. The walk-in unit, with its glass doors, allows shoppers to see and choose exactly what they need.

Second, in the summer and fall, the food bank receives large quantities of fresh food from local markets, farms and individuals. There is lots of waste because quantity often exceeds storage space. The walk-in unit will provide enough space to accept all donated fresh food plus allow for easier food rotation.

Third, the food bank refrigerators/freezers are aging. They are soon expected to begin failing or require expensive maintenance. The walk-in unit will proactively avoid those expected expenses.

Volunteers note that the food bank walk-in project needs community support. The food bank has always received very generous community financial support. Every year nearly 100 percent of the food bank operations budget is met from community donations.

To fund the walk-in project, the food bank has received grants from Kiwanis Pacific Northwest Foundation, The Roundhouse Foundation, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, Oregon Food Bank, Washington Federal Bank and its own Kiwanis Club. These funds are sufficient to order the walk-in unit; it is ordered and will be delivered in late July. But there isn't sufficient money to pay for the electrical/plumbing installation and accessories such as shopping carts. There are no further foundation grant possibilities; therefore the food bank needs community support.

If you wish to donate to the walk-in project, make a check payable to Sisters Kiwanis Walk-in and post to Sisters Kiwanis, P.O. Box 1296, Sisters, OR, 97759. Or drop off the check at the food bank (328 W. Main the intersection of Oak and Main) any Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you would like to donate and also see the walk-in unit, contact Kerry Bott at 503-432-5278 to make arrangements.

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