“Union Beach, like so many other hard-hit communities in our area, is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said Jon Bon Jovi. “We recognize that by supporting Spoon Full of Hope, we are not only providing families with a hot, nutritious meal in a warm, welcoming setting but also providing hope to those who are still rebuilding their lives.”
JBJ Soul Foundation offered to help re-open Spoon Full of Hope after the program lost its funding last summer. The community restaurant follows the JBJ Soul Kitchen’s model as there are no prices on the menu and you could be seated with someone you may not know. It is not a “pay-what-you-can” model, instead patrons can either pay a minimum donation or volunteer an hour of time to earn a dining certificate for a meal that will feed the volunteer and up to four family members. Since reopening, the restaurant has served an average of 70 meals per night, with 50% of meals served to patrons who volunteered as payment.
“We owe a heartfelt thank you to Jon, Dorothea and their amazing staff at JBJ Soul Kitchen for the guidance, opportunity, support and encouragement,” said Gigi Liaguno-Dorr, project manager for Spoon Full of Hope. “This sponsorship is a true blessing that will empower, uplift and enable our community to continue to help each other pay it forward.”
Carl Williamson, pastor of Gateway Church of Christ said that he was excited for the opportunity to partner with Spoon Full of Hope to re-open the community restaurant. “Whether it’s helping a person in-need or someone who is just willing to volunteer to help others, we believe that creating a family-like atmosphere is key to bringing our community together.”
Spoon Full of Hope is the passion project of Liaguno-Dorr, who is the owner of JakeaBob’s Bay. After Hurricane Sandy she relocated the storm-ravaged restaurant to a temporary location naming it JakeaBob’s Off the Bay. She also devoted her time volunteering and distributing meals in Union Beach and later partnered with Gateway Church of Christ in 2013 to open the community kitchen.
“I had seen the need, witnessed the struggles and knew something had to be done. I wanted to create a warm and welcoming environment where neighbors could laugh, cry and encourage each other to keep on pressing forward,” Liaguno-Dorr said. “A helping hand, a hot meal, a friendly face, a conversation and hope—these are life’s most rewarding pleasures.”