With this new venture, Rutgers University students who cannot afford to pay for food will be able to get a fresh, three-course meal without having to worry about payment.
Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea have officially unveiled the third location of their volunteer-run restaurant, JBJ Soul Kitchen, at Rutgers University, reported NBC New York. The Grammy Award winner and his wife have been actively engaged in philanthropic activities through their foundation since 2006. Last week, the singer set up the third JBJ Soul Kitchen. He was seen at the opening ceremony of the community kitchen.
Rutgers University and the rock star joined forces to help students struggling with food insecurity. As written on the University's website, more than 75% of the 36,000 undergraduate students receive financial aid, along with the graduate students, who also receive financial aid from the University. With this new venture, students who cannot afford to pay for the food will be able to get a fresh, three-course meal without having to worry about payment.
This is the first time Bon Jovi's non-profit restaurant has been set-up on a college campus. A Rutgers student Adrian Acakios said, "A lot of my friends often times will be like I don’t know where my next meal’s going to come from." Given that more than half the students of the University require financial aid, Soul Kitchen being open on the campus ensures they will not have to worry about going hungry.
Dorothea Hurley said, "Recognizing that food insecurity is a critical issue facing many college students, and one that hits home right here at Rutgers, when Gourmet Dining came to us over a year ago with the idea to open a Soul Kitchen, we jumped at the chance to make an impact." The Soul Kitchen's menu does not come with any price and the diners are encouraged to make a donation of $12 or using a donated meal plan swipe.
However much a person agrees to pay or even if they cannot pay, whoever comes inside the restaurant gets to enjoy the same three-course meal prepared by the chefs. Those who cannot pay are encouraged to volunteer at the kitchen instead. The items on the menu change every week and even include smoked salmon and soul-seasoned barbecue pulled beef. Brian Conway, the manager of the campus food provider, Gourmet Dining, remarked in a conversation with CBS, "Possibly being a server here on campus, just cleaning the tables or even being a meet and greet. There’s no stigma involved. Their card is loaded with that meal and they’ll swipe and come in just like anybody else."
The first JBJ Soul Kitchen was opened in 2011 in Red Banks and five years later in 2016, the foundation opened its second community restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey. Bon Jovi said, "We opened our first Soul Kitchen ten years in Red Bank, New Jersey after Super Storm Sandy. And the second one on Toms River, because those were the people most impacted by it. Now what we realize is that there were kids in colleges that were hungry. And this was a — logical progression. And Rutgers really embraced the concept.” Hurley noted, "People had this romanticized version of the starving student. It’s not as romantic as we would like to think it is.”
The "Livin' On A Prayer" singer added, "This location being even larger, we are going to have an even greater impact on the community of Toms River. We are expanding our mission with a network of partners and resources to meet the needs of the community of Toms River." Students are often disregarded as a group that could use assistance, and we're hopeful that this venture encourages more people to support them and encourage higher education.