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TRENTON - Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that DHS’ Division of Disability Services (DDS) has been awarded another $10,000 grant from the Kessler Foundation’s Special Initiatives Program to build mobility ramps and widen doorways at food pantries to provide improved access for New Jersey’s citizens with disabilities. “This second award from the Kessler Foundation marks its continued commitment to increasing the number of accessible food pantries in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Velez.  “The successful efforts made by DDS with the initial grant have resulted in building adaptations at three food pantries, which are now physically accessible to people with disabilities to obtain food and other essential services.”

DDS will distribute a one-time award to two or three emergency food providers, operating within the New Jersey Emergency Food Provider System, for capital improvements to increase accessibility for people with disabilities.  The selected emergency food providers will clearly demonstrate the need for accessibility and develop a detailed plan to make their facilities more accessible.  Preference will be given to emergency food providers that offer additional assistance programs, such as SNAP (food stamps).  In many cases, minimal capital improvements will afford people with physical disabilities access to the food, clothing and other assistance provided in the pantries. 

“People who have disabilities often live on a fixed income and may need to utilize food pantries to help make ends meet,” said DDS Director Joseph Amoroso. “For some, having access to these locations is essential to their health and well-being and prevents them from having to seek Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits.”

In May 2012, the initial grant of $15,000 from the Kessler Foundation to DDS, was awarded by DDS, to the Lord’s Pantry, Trinity United Methodist Church, Hackettstown; Fixer of Hearts Food Pantry, Community Church Fixer of Hearts, North Brunswick; and, the Emergency Food Pantry, Christ Care Unit Missionary Baptist Church, Sicklerville. 


A “Notice of Funds” for this additional grant of $10,000 will be posted on the DHS website this month.

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, will rate and score proposals from food pantries that apply.

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