After being closed for more than two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, JBJ Soul Kitchen, which fights food insecurity on the Rutgers University-Newark campus, is fully operational again.
On Oct. 20, New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, who helped launch the restaurant in January 2020, were on hand to help celebrate the grand re-opening, saying it fills an important need at the university.
“Food insecurity is one of the most critical issues college students face today,” Jon Bon Jovi said in a statement. “We applaud Gourmet Dining and Rutgers University-Newark, who have made tackling this issue a priority so that students always have a place to go for a great-tasting, healthy meal.”
For the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, the restaurant at Rutgers-Newark is its third since establishing JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank 11 years ago and first on a college campus.
Located at the Paul Robeson Campus Center, the eatery offers healthy, chef-prepared meals to students, faculty and community members who have the means to pay, as well as to those in need.
Diners are invited to pay-it-forward by making a minimum donation of $12 or using a donated meal plan “swipe.” They can also cover the cost of a meal by volunteering around the restaurant or in other dining locations on campus.
“We couldn’t have found a better place to open our third location and truly believe that when students are supported with basic needs and backed by their community, they can and will go on to do amazing things,” Bon Jovi said.
Rutgers-Newark provost Jeffrey Robinson praised the restaurant’s concept and execution.
“It’s a fantastic example of social entrepreneurship in action, when you build a restaurant that is meeting a social need, you demonstrate the power of a double bottom line.’’
At Rutgers-Newark, JBJ Soul Kitchen is part of a comprehensive approach the university has taken to fight hunger on campus.
As part of last week’s visit, Bon Jovi and his wife toured pantryRUN, the campus food pantry that is connected to the restaurant and shares the same mission of making sure food insecure students “have a dignified experience,” the university said.
Rutgers-Newark chancellor Nancy Cantor said reintroducing JBJ Soul Kitchen provides even greater opportunities for the community to educate and assist one another.
“This is an amazing partnership and central to our values,’’ she said. “That the Bon Jovis chose to open JBJ Soul Kitchen here validates who we are and how important it is to be engaged with students, staff and the community. And the restaurant’s relationship with the food pantry is a great synergy.’’