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25 years of giving: Annual Stuff A Truck campaign underway

BEMIDJI -- Keeping a goal of 25,000 pounds for year 25 just made sense. "We're just going to stick with that, we came in significantly under last year so hoping for a better turnout this year," said Mary Mitchell, Bemidji Community Food Shelf man...

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Eighth grader Hailie Thompson carries a box of donated food to a semitrailer for the Stuff A Truck campaign Thursday morning at Bemidji Middle School. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Keeping a goal of 25,000 pounds for year 25 just made sense.

“We're just going to stick with that, we came in significantly under last year so hoping for a better turnout this year,” said Mary Mitchell, Bemidji Community Food Shelf manager.

The annual Stuff A Truck campaign, started by Marketplace Food and Drug, is back for its 25th year. The campaign uses a semitrailer to gather food and monetary donations for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. The semitrailer will be parked at Marketplace Foods today and Saturday to gather donations from the community.

For the past few weeks, area students have been gathering donations, which were collected Wednesday and Thursday.

“I hope they are talking about it in the classroom, so that the teachers are explaining to them why this is important, why we need to help each other in our community and support each other and that there are people who don't have enough to eat on the daily basis,” said Mitchell.

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Last year, local schools alone gathered 9,260 pounds of food and $1,027.

Each year, Mitchell makes a list of items which are most needed. This year it focused on personal care items.

“People who are on food stamps or using EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cannot purchase those types of items,” Mitchell said. “They are things that historically we have not really purchased much for food shelf, our emphasis has been on food.”

The campaign works to fill the stockroom at the food shelf, but it also adds variety.  

“Things like coffee, tea, spices, those kinds of things are things that I don't purchase for the food shelf and so they are really really appreciated,” Mitchell said.

Following the collection from the schools, the truck moves to Marketplace Foods where the public will have an opportunity to contribute Friday and Saturday.

Marketplace Foods is selling $5 (worth about $8 retail) bags of food that customers can purchase to donate to the Stuff A Truck campaign.

“We go to our suppliers, tell them what we are doing and then we ask them for products that they have that we are looking for that are discounted or they would be willing to discount and then we pass that along,” said Mike McNiel of Marketplace Foods.

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Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the truck will move to the Sanford Center for the BSU men’s hockey series against Princeton on Nov. 25-26. If game attendees bring a donation of $5 or more, they’ll be able to purchase a ticket for $12. Season ticket holders who make donations will be entered for a chance to win a $100 Marketplace Foods gift card.


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Boxes of donated food for the Stuff A Truck campaign wait to be loaded into a semitrailer Thursday morning at Bemidji Middle School. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

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