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Food Bank Serves Thousands In Need In Post-Sandy New Jersey

Community Food Bank Of New Jersey

Thousands of people are served by the sprawling Community Food Bank of New Jersey. (Credit: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

HILLSIDE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Feeding centers with volunteers handing out food to others in need have become a familiar sight in the months since Superstorm Sandy decimated the Tri-State Area, but have you ever wondered where it all comes from?

As CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported, thousands of people have been fed with donated food almost from the first moments the skies cleared. For those in the Garden State, chances are that it all came from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

“We use all the vehicles we can get,” said Elder Phillip Thomas as he picked up supplies for his church members.

Thomas saw an increase of hungry people immediately after the storm passed. The food bank was there for them.

“It’s amazing, and it restores my faith in human nature,” he said.

The Community Food Bank building in Hillside, N.J., is almost five times the size of a football field. But it didn’t start out so big.

In 1975, Kathleen DiChiara decided to start feeding hungry people out of the trunk of her car.

“So I looked at a situation where we had two problems – waste and hunger – and if we could put waste and want together, one problem just solved another,” DiChiara said.

Out of its enormous warehouse near Newark, the food bank distributes nearly 40 million pounds of food every year to over 900,000 people all over New Jersey. Since 1982, they’ve given away almost a billion dollars of groceries.

The food bank also provides school supplies and clothes to kids in need, as well as packs of food for kids to take home on weekends.

“The teacher or counselor will tell you a story how a child might have fainted because their last meal was Friday afternoon or Saturday,” said food bank kids’ division director Wanda Rodriguez.

Half of the kids at Sussex Avenue School in Newark depend on them, including Madeline Maisonet’s.

“When this program was introduced into the school, I thought it was a wonderful idea, because now I don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from,” she said.

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey has grown into one of the largest organizations of its kind in the nation. Its major donors are grocery chains, food manufacturers, and folks who pass the hat at Bruce Springsteen concerts.

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