Founder of Community FoodBank honored by Hillside

HILLSIDE, NJ — On Aug. 28 in Hillside, a ceremony was held in honor of Kathleen DiChiara, the founder of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. This event was held to celebrate DiChiara’s retirement as president and CEO of the Community FoodBank, which she has led for more than 30 years.

Hillside’s Department of Public Works installed an honorary street sign at the bottom of 31 Evans Terminal near the Community FoodBank, renamed “Kathleen DiChiara Way.” The township officials were excited to honor her legacy.

“I was once told there is no greater investment a person can make than to invest in another human being, and Kathleen’s countless acts of kindness, perseverance and leadership demonstrates our appreciation and respect for Kathleen making that investment she has each and every day,” said Mayor Angela Garretson in a press release.

As the FoodBank’s president and CEO, DiChiara has been driven by the same compassion, care and concern that compelled her to start collecting food in the mid­ 1970s. In 1975, she began building what would become one of the biggest food banks in the country out of the trunk of her car.

What started with that station wagon has grown into a fleet of trucks, 200 employees, tens of thousands of volunteers, a 285,000-square­foot warehouse, the equivalent of six ­and ­a ­half acres in Hillside, and a 29,000-square­foot facility in Egg Harbor Township.

Hillside, under the direction of Harbor Consultants, completed a storm water tunnel project, which has alleviated the flooding that had caused great hardship to the Community FoodBank and the surrounding property owners. DiChiara was instrumental in making this project happen.

To memorialize her role, the day was also known as “Kathleen DiChiara Day” in Hillside.

“I am humbled and honored by today’s street sign dedication,” DiChiara said in a release. “For more than two decades, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey has been proud to be a part of the Hillside community, and many remarkable things have been accomplished here on Evans Terminal. I thank Mayor Garretson and the entire township for the steadfast support.”

“We may never be able to fully measure the return on investment to the individuals and families that Kathleen has helped,” said Garretson in a release, “but at least on this day, in our way, we say thank you.”