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  • Sue Smith Romero

“Stuff the Truck” Helps Fill Utica Food Pantry Shelves

Chuck Scholl stepped up with a new kind of food drive when COVID-19 began.

Chuck Scholl and his grandson stand by as shoppers "Stuff the Truck" with donations.

Last April as the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak its havoc, Chuck Scholl asked himself, “What can I do to help?”

He had retired from his business, Standard Insulating, in February and he wanted to use his time well. “Somehow food popped into my mind,” he said. Inspired by the work he’d done with the "Stuff the Bus" toy drive through his business in past years, he came up with the idea for “Stuff the Truck.”

He contacted the Utica Food Pantry to find out what items were needed and then called Chanatry’s grocery store in Utica to get permission to park his pick-up truck in their lot. Grocery store rules prohibit soliciting, so he sat by his truck with a sign explaining his mission.

Giving as Much as They Could

In just four or five hours, the bed of his pick-up was full of donations. “I was amazed by how generous people were,” he said. In addition to the grocery items, he collected $400 in cash as well. One man donated the contents of a whole grocery cart. An elderly woman donated one dollar, which Chuck said he thought was as valuable to her as $1000 would be to most people. Sadly, he said he heard some people say they used to be the ones who donated to drives like this, but now they were among those in need of the donations.

Encouraged by the success of his first effort, Chuck hosted another food drive in May at two locations at the same time. His grandson Caden Briggs manned a truck at Hannaford’s in Washington Mills, while Chuck set up his Stuff the Truck at Hannaford’s on Commercial Drive in New Hartford. These food drives were twice as successful.

In all, Stuff the Truck has collected 1667 pounds of food with an economic value of $2,700. But they’re not finished yet.

You Can Help Too Next Weekend

On November 21 starting at 9:30am, Chuck will return to Chanatry’s while Caden will be back at Hannaford’s on Kellogg Road in Washington Mills, and Mark Joseph (Proctor High School’s basketball coach) will have a truck at Hannaford’s on Commercial Drive in New Hartford. They’ll be in the parking lots for about four hours until the trucks are full. Look for their signs displaying the Utica Food Pantry logo if you’d like to add your donation just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chuck said he hopes others will get involved too. All it takes is a call to your local grocery store to ask for permission, a sign, a pick-up truck, and a few hours on a Saturday morning. “Maybe it’ll catch on,” he said.

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