EDISON, NJ — A new snack bar will open Friday, Oct. 17, in the Edison Municipal Complex and will be serving up much more than affordable, nutritious foods. It offers jobs and hope to the people with disabilities who will be working there.

The township has teamed up with the Edison-based New Jersey Institute for Disabilities (NJID) to open the “Snack Shack” in the first floor lobby of the Edison Municipal Complex, serving breakfast, lunch and snacks to municipal employees and Town Hall visitors from Tuesdays through Fridays.

“The Snack Shack’s greatest objective is to offer community-inclusion, social integration and meaningful employment to several people with intellectual disabilities,” said Mayor Thomas Lankey. “I’m very proud that Edison is working hand-in-hand toward these goals with the N.J. Institute for Disabilities.”

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“Supported employment opportunities like the Snack Shack provide people with disabilities a secure way to sharpen their job skills and social skills, to be productive in the workforce and to achieve greater independence in their personal lives,” Lankey said.

NJID collaborates with other non-profit service agencies and private business to provide supported employment for people with disabilities. Its new relationship with Edison is NJID’s first job-creation endeavor with a government entity, said Venus D. Majeski, NJID’s community relations director.

“The Lankey Administration has demonstrated genuine commitment to community-based employment for people with disabilities,” Majeski said. “NJID hopes our partnership with Edison becomes a model for future collaborations with other New Jersey communities.”

Working in the Snack Shack will be William Fasarakis and Anthony McCombs, both of Edison, and Andres Aguas of Woodbridge, all of whom seek careers in food service.

The three Snack Shack employees will be accompanied to work by personal job coaches, who are paid with funds that the employees receive from the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (NJDVR).

The program is to be supervised by Jagruti Patel, NJID’s director of Adult Community Support Services. Edison has secured Community Development Block Grant funds to hire Cherie Spielman as supervisor for the Snack Shack’s daily peration, Majeski said.

Edison’s Snack Shack will serve breakfasts, lunches and snacks during the Town Hall workday. On the menu will be cereals, bagels, Danish, coffee cakes, breakfast bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, cookies and brownies. NJID food service vendors will provide the Snack Shack’s fare and profits will help NJID pay the employees’ salaries, Majeski said.    

“Community-based jobs like these are essential for people with disabilities. They are real jobs for real wages. They teach job skills, good work habits and personal responsibility,” Majeski said. “Interacting with town employees and visitors can help break down barriers and change people’s minds about how much people with disabilities can accomplish with the proper supports.”  

The New Jersey Institute for Disabilities – formerly known as the Cerebral Palsy Association of Middlesex County — is perhaps best known throughout the state for its Lakeview School and Treatment Center on the edge of Edison’s Roosevelt Park.

NJID also operates more than twenty residential sites, five adult training centers, a large early intervention program for infants and toddlers as well as an extensive network of community services. With locations in Middlesex, Somerset, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, NJID serves more than 1500 adults and children with a wide range of disabilities.