NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — You’ve heard his lyrics, but on Wednesday morning a big New Jersey rock star shared his soulful side in a different way.
Jon Bon Jovi opened a kitchen at Rutgers University that will help college students struggling with food insecurity, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Foundation said 1 in 3 college students lack the financial resources for regular meals, especially healthy food.
“A lot of my friends often times will be like I don’t know where my next meal’s going to come from,” student Adrian Acakios said.
Bon Jovi is providing an answer for those who need it.
“Food insecurity is one of the most critical issues college students face today,” Bon Jovi said. “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. We couldn’t have found a better place to open our third JBJ Soul Kitchen 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.”
On Wednesday, he gave CBS2 a peek at the JBJ Soul Kitchen at Rutgers-Newark, the first on a college campus.
“Over the last decade, the Soul Kitchen restaurants in Red Bank and Toms River have provided well over 100,000 meals,” Bon Jovi said. “It has been a passion project for us for a decade now.”
“When Gourmet Dining came to us over a year ago, with the idea of opening a Soul Kitchen, we jumped on the chance to make an impact,” added Dorothea Hurley, Bon Jovi’s wife.
Here’s how it works: There are no prices on the menu. Instead, diners are encouraged to “pay it forward” by making a minimum donation of $12 or using a donated meal plan swipe. Everyone, no matter how much you pay or don’t pay, gets to enjoy the same chef-created three-course meal. Those who can’t afford it can volunteer an hour of their time instead at the kitchen or other dining programs.
“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,” said Brian Conway, the manager of the campus food provider, Gourmet Dining.
Rutgers said 30 tons of food were given out this past fall. Bon Jovi and his wife have been meeting with students.
“They were also feeling pressure, where their friends were able to go out. So we were saying this is a way you can stretch your budget,” Hurley said.
The menu items change every week. They include smoked salmon and soul-seasoned barbecue pulled beef.
Beginning on Thursday, the JBJ Soul Kitchen at Rutgers will be open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. It is located on the second floor of the Paul Robeson Campus Center at 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Newark.
If you’re interested in volunteering or making a contribution to the JBJ Soul Kitchen, please click here.