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S:US Receives Grant from the Maria Grazia Panaro Foundation for New Community Fridge

Thank you to the Maria Grazia Panaro Foundation for giving S:US a grant to open and operate a new community fridge. S:US’ community fridges provide fresh produce and pantry staples to people served by S:US as well as to low-income New Yorkers from the surrounding communities. Our community fridges are stocked by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities served by S:US.

S:US’ Community Fridge program was launched in 2022 by our Developmental Disabilities Services division with the support of our Urban Farms’ program. This project was created in response to an increased need for food assistance among families of people supported by S:US during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community fridges are located at S:US group homes for people with disabilities and provide fresh produce and basic pantry items to individuals and families in underserved New York City neighborhoods. The community fridges are stocked and maintained by people who attend S:US day habilitation programs, giving them an opportunity to help others while connecting with members of their local communities.

Our developmental disabilities services are designed to help people live up to their fullest potential by creating opportunities for meaningful relationships, full integration into their communities, and personal growth. Self-direction is at the center of our philosophy, and individuals served are encouraged to make informed choices about which services and supports best meet their needs, with assistance from their family members and S:US staff. Each year, S:US’ Developmental Disabilities Services serves approximately 800 people who are diagnosed with intellectual/developmental disabilities, as well as those with neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

One of the many enrichment programs available to people served by S:US who have developmental disabilities is our Urban Farms program, which provides therapeutic horticulture, food security and nutritional programming, and vocational development to underserved New York City residents. Urban Farms functions as a supplement to the support services we offer, using horticulture as a tool in improving wellness outcomes and in helping our clients to achieve their personal and professional goals. S:US Urban Farms directly engages over 600 participants including 21 Urban Farmers that received employment as stewards for our gardens. With a growing space of approximately 20,000 square feet, Urban Farms is currently active at more than 70 different S:US sites in New York City and grows more than 9,000 lbs. of produce a year, which equates to over 7,500 meals and an estimated market value of $45,000.

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