Brotherly Love: Wholesome Riches Nonprofit Helps Feed Camden Community

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) – A former South Jersey teacher found a new calling that keeps her close to both schools and the wider community.

It’s a cold winter morning outside the Veterans Memorial Family School in Camden, but there’s no stopping Michele Pilla.

“It’s a good day for me when I get my hands dirty,” Pilla said.

Pilla is a former teacher who started the nonprofit organization Wholesome Riches in 2019. She started small and handed out a few dozen bags of food to students who would otherwise go hungry on the weekend.

“We packed it in my garage and handed it over to a school and then two schools, and when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t go to school anymore,” Pilla said.

Pilla reached out to the Food Bank of South Jersey. Thanks to them, and in partnership with the Camden City School District, Wholesome Riches started drive-thru food pantries in November 2020 outside several schools across the city.

“Our thoughts are full. There is no greater joy than to see a family have what they need and walk away, knowing that you were able to be a blessing to a family,” Pilla said.

It’s not just adults. Students work side by side with volunteers, loading hot boxes into boxes and bags of non-perishable food into suitcases as a community service project.

“It feels nice to see people get food,” said Alberlin Simo in eighth grade.

“I love the fact that when we come to this school that kids drop out of class, teachers put a priority in it,” said volunteer Marc Dickson.

“I love doing this for people, and I love helping everyone,” said student Abrian Correa.

Luis Cosne regularly stops by to help his neighbors.

Brotherly Love: Wholesome Riches Nonprofit Helps Feed Camden Community

“A lot of seniors sometimes can’t handle it. I pick up the food for the seniors and drop it off at home,” Cosne said.

Wholesome Riches served 18,000 people in 2021. The president and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey said it has been a wonderful partnership.

“Michele’s enthusiasm and passion with her group, in working with us, you see the joy, you see the hope, you see the gratitude,” said Fred Wasiak.

Pilla is hoping to get a delivery truck large enough to deliver food to homes or expand her pantry.

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