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TRENTON Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that the DHS’ Division of Disability Services (DDS) was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Kessler Foundation’s Special Initiatives Program to improve physical access to food pantries for New Jersey’s citizens with disabilities.“Accessibility is a vital component of independence for citizens with disabilities; especially, access to areas and locations that support the social safety-net,” said Commissioner Velez. “DDS is the state’s lead agency for disability services. Staff here will ensure that the grant is distributed appropriately and effectively to advance this effort.”

DDS will distribute a one-time award to between five and eight food pantries, operating within the New Jersey Emergency Food Provider System, for capital improvements to increase accessibility for people with disabilities.  The selected food pantries will clearly demonstrate the need for accessibility and develop a detailed plan to make the pantries more accessible.  Preference will be given to food pantries that offer additional assistance programs, such as NJ SNAP (formerly called 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. 

A “Notice of Funds” will be posted on the DHS website this fall.

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