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TRENTON - Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that three regional nonprofit agencies were awarded competitive grants totaling $15,000 to improve physical access to food pantries for New Jersey’s residents with disabilities. 
The awardees are: 
• The Lord’s Pantry, Trinity United Methodist Church, Hackettstown
• Fixer of Hearts Food Pantry, Community Church Fixer of Hearts, North Brunswick 
• The Emergency Food Pantry, Christ Care Unit Missionary Baptist Church, Sicklerville

The single use grants were made possible by the Kessler Foundation through DHS’ Division of Disability Services (DDS). Each of the selected pantries operates within the New Jersey Emergency Food Provider System serving urban and rural areas in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.

“We’re so grateful to the Kessler Foundation for making accessibility a priority,” said Commissioner Velez. “As a result of its generosity, building adaptations can be made to these pantries that enable individuals, who are food insecure and have mobility challenges, to get the assistance they need.”

The awarded food pantries also provide information about and referral to other assistance programs, such as NJ SNAP (the state’s food assistance program), WorkFirstNJ (welfare) and NJ FamilyCare (subsidized health insurance).  Capital improvements, which otherwise would be cost prohibitive for the food pantries, will afford people with physical disabilities access to food, clothing and other services.  The selected applicants must submit an architecturally feasible plan to DDS.

“Because of the economy, our state’s food pantries have seen a real increase in need, especially within the disability community,” said DDS’ Director, Joseph Amoroso. “These accessibility grants enhance the emergency food provider system and empower individuals with disabilities to obtain the services they need, with dignity.”

DDS is the state’s lead agency for disability services. A four-member review committee, including people with disabilities and/or an extensive knowledge of ADA accommodations, rated and scored each proposal.

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