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HILLSIDE, N.J. — The COVID-19 pandemic drove home the ongoing food insecurity crisis in America.

Lines of cars waited at food distribution sites around the country after the pandemic shut down businesses and left many without paychecks to purchase even the most basic needs.

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey serves about 800 food pantry partners around the state from its Hillside operations center.

It started as a labor of love and compassion in 1975 by Kathleen DiChiara and was run out of her station wagon.

The food bank became a nonprofit in 1982 and is now a major operations center with a 284,000-square-foot warehouse for donated food and a commercial kitchen where volunteers package thousands of meals for those who don’t know where their next meal will come from.