The new director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), Les Aylesworth is the guest on the weekly, local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up as a very unusual Food-a-Bago food drive is about to get started.

Imagine this:  You just start in a new job where you are responsible for coordinating programs to help feed thousands of your neighbors who are facing food insecurity. Big challenge to begin with right? THEN, a few months into settling in, you get hit with a global pandemic that shoots demand for emergency food assistance through the roof, sends volunteer and paid staff home and cuts off the flow of food from your agency's supply partners.  Welcome to Les Aylesworth's world since mid-March.

Undaunted, Aylesworth tells Southern Tier Close Up CHOW has risen to the challenge with some innovative solutions like putting together dozens of emergency boxes to get a family through a five-day period.

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Aylesworth jokes that he was so new to the job when everything happened, he didn't have any idea about what he should or should not do, so he just plowed ahead with what he felt needed to be done.

The challenges, however, continue with the loss of traditional fund and food drives like the one in the spring from the U.S. Postal Service that collects the most supplies for the CHOW warehouse than any other effort and the Hunger Walk, which had to be held virtually this year.

With a few changes, however, another big food drive: the Food-a-Bago with Townsquare Media is still happening November 2 through the 9th with a recreational vehicle provided by Oliver's Campers, Inc. in Norwich set up in the Weis Market parking lot on Upper Front Street in the Town of Chenango.

Monetary donations are encouraged since CHOW can parlay the cash into a purchase of five meals per dollar donation.  Non-perishable food donations in non-glass containers are still being taken but, instead of filling the camper then filling a CHOW truck, the donations will be put directly into the truck to cut down on contact.

CHOW collection barrels will be set up on site and Townsquare radio personalities will be at the camper during the week to take donations directly from people's vehicles to the CHOW truck.

People who prefer to not come out at all can still help by sending a check to CHOW, 3 Otseningo Street, Binghamton, NY 13903 and mark it for Food-a-Bago.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Sundays at 6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.