Jon Bon Jovi – longtime heartthrob, ’80s rock superstar – isn’t your average celebrity. Since beginning his career in political activism back in 2006 with JBJ Soul Foundation, he has been on a mission to tackle poverty in his home state of New Jersey.
JBJ Soul Foundation’s newest venture is Soul Kitchen, the restaurant where people pay what they can to dine on fresh and delicious three-course meals at its two locations at Toms River and Red Bank in New Jersey. Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea opened Soul Kitchen in 2011 and it has already served over 105,000 meals. Some of their mottos include “all are welcome at our table” and “where there is love there is plenty.” The aim is to break the cycle of poverty in the area, serving those from all socioeconomic backgrounds and building a stronger community.
The system of Soul Kitchen is based on trust and community, where people who can afford to pay are asked to make a donation of $20, and those who can’t are able to contribute with volunteer work in the kitchen or organic garden. Currently, donations make up 54% of the meals made and volunteering contributes 46%. Soul Kitchen invites everyone to “introduce yourself to the person seated beside you or across the table. Stay awhile and stay informed of all the ways Soul Kitchen is dedicated to eliminating hunger, building relationships, and celebrating community.”
There are no reservations required and seating is prioritized by those who are most in need. Otherwise, it’s sit where you please and interact with those around you, getting to know your neighbors and creating an atmosphere of warmth, community, and trust.
Bon Jovi has long been an advocate of fighting social injustice and homelessness, focusing particularly on housing and hunger. His JBJ Soul Foundation has been helping individuals and families with economic issues for years, building affordable and supportive shelter and accommodation for thousands of people on low income or on the streets. The Soul Kitchen endeavor is now focusing on hunger: “Our mission has always been to affect positive change and address the issues of hunger and homelessness.” (via Billboard)
The menu at both locations is made up of a nutritious three-course meal that changes every 10 days. You can check the website for the current menu, which includes an appetizer, main course, and dessert that is based on American Regional cuisine. Options include vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, and many of the ingredients are farm-to-table, coming directly from the garden or the JBJ Soul Kitchen Farm.
And that’s not all they do. As well as encouraging a volunteer-based system, JBJ Soul Kitchen also features The Employment & Empowerment Team (EET), a program to aid and coach those looking who are unemployed or underemployed. With a team of dedicated volunteers in the field, professional help is provided in job coaching, life coaching, financial coaching, and legal advice to help those who need it. This has led to over 100 job offers for those looking for employment.
It’s not just a meal you’re getting at Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen.
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