Summit, NJ - The local Knights of Columbus chapter held a food drive at their meeting hall this afternoon from 2pm-5pm to benefit The Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Grand Knight John Doughtery, head of the group, a fraternal order of Catholic men, also helped to "raise money for the food bank and we also are sponsoring a coat drive here at the hall. We also raise money for various other charities and social organizations in the area. We are associated with St. James Parish of Springfield and St. Theres's of Summit. The Knights have about three-hundred members on their rolls with about sixty active members."

Ms. Kathleen DiChiara, CEO of the food bank said she began the organization out of the trunk of her station wagon back in 1975 and incorporated as a 501c(3) charity in 1982.  DiChiara says that, "due to the massive downturn in our economy, comparing figures, in 2008, we collected and donated about twenty-three million pounds of food and this year, we've had nearly a sixty percent increase in donations, amounting to thirthy-seven millions pounds." She went on to say that, "hunger is not a seasonal problem in New Jersey, it's a year-round problem and this rise in child hood hunger has been overwhelmiing." DiChiara also cited "the rising fuel prices has effected us as well. We have eighteen straight trucks and two tractor-trailers. Our warehouse in Hillside is 285,000 square feet, which serves eighteen of twenty-one counties.  We also have a second warehouse in Atlantic County which serves that county as well as Cumberland and Cape May counties in south Jersey. 

The food bank also has programs that hire people who would otherwise not be able to have a job, "people who might end up at a soup kitchen, as well as a a culinary program that trains and provides employment for people in the food service industry."  About her staff and volunteers, Ms. DiChiar said, "we have well over  twenty-five thousand volunteers statewide, we could not do this without them. They are a dedicated and group of people and I also have a very talented staff. I'm so proud of every one of them."

The local warehouse is at 31 Evans Terminal Drive in Hillside, NJ.  The annual fundraiser, known as the Blue Jean Ball will be held on April 9, 2011.  To volunteer of provide services, contact the bank at 908-644-7111.