Campus Foodservice Provider, Gourmet Dining, Introduces “Pay It Forward” Community Restaurant as Innovative Approach to Addressing Student Food Insecurity
Newark, N.J. – January 22, 2020 – It’s hard to believe, but one in three students attending a four-year college struggle with the issue of food insecurity. At Rutgers University – Newark (RU-N), where more than 50 percent of students have exceptional financial need, the campus community is taking an innovative approach to address the issue by opening the first JBJ Soul Kitchen on a college campus in partnership with the school’s food service provider, Gourmet Dining. The JBJ Soul Kitchen serves healthy, delicious meals to students, faculty and community members who have the ability to pay, in addition to students who are in need.
“Food insecurity is one of the most critical issues college students face today,” said Jon Bon Jovi, Board Chairman, JBJ Soul Foundation. “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.”
Rutgers University – Newark has long been at the forefront of addressing the issue of student food insecurity and has taken a comprehensive approach to open a food pantry, organize a care team and work with student organizations dedicated to fighting hunger on campus. Introducing the JBJ Soul Kitchen at RU-N provides even greater opportunities for the entire campus community to come together and educate and assist one another to solve this problem.
“Our new partnership with the JBJ Soul Foundation and Gourmet Dining to open JBJ Soul Kitchen—the first on a college campus—takes our collective action on food insecurity to a whole new level,” said Rutgers University – Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “This is the kind of action that I think the late great Newark Rabbi Joachim Prinz had in mind when he spoke at the March on Washington just before Dr. King in 1963 and said: ‘Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of human dignity and integrity.’ For us at Rutgers-Newark, that is what it means to be an anchor institution.”
At JBJ Soul Kitchen RU-N, students, faculty and community members are invited to dine and pay-it-forward by making a minimum donation of $12 or using a donated meal plan “swipe”. Students may also volunteer their time by participating in various activities around the restaurant or in other campus dining locations to cover the cost of their meal.
“What makes the JBJ Soul Kitchen model special is that it’s designed so that everyone can enjoy a healthy, delicious meal and dine with dignity – whether you’re hungry or hungry to make a difference,” added Dorothea Bongiovi, Founder, JBJ Soul Kitchen.
No matter the individual’s socioeconomic situation, everyone who dines at the JBJ Soul Kitchen will enjoy the same chef-created, three-course meal. Every week the menu changes with a variety of options for appetizers, main courses and desserts. Some of the menus will feature a Soul Spiced BBQ Pulled Beef, a Coffee and Soul Spiced Short Rib, and Maple Roasted Chicken. All meat served is certified Halal, Kosher is available upon request, and there are always vegan and gluten-free options, along with delicious desserts.
“As a campus dining service, everything we do is focused on meeting the ever-changing dining needs of our students and know that great meals are a part of their success. One day, after seeing a long line of students waiting to visit the food pantry, I knew we needed to do something more to help them focus on being students – and not worry about where their next meal is coming from,” said Michael Frungillo, President, Gourmet Dining. “Understanding there was a successful model and a great champion essentially in our own backyard in New Jersey, we soon approached Jon and Dorothea and the JBJ Soul Kitchen. We’re honored to carry their mission forward and know we have all the right ingredients to make a difference.”
Beginning on Thursday January 23, the JBJ Soul Kitchen RU-N will be open for lunch from 11:30am-1:30pm ET Monday-Friday. It is located on the second floor of the Paul Robeson Campus Center at 350 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. in Newark, N.J.
Individuals interested in making a contribution to the JBJ Soul Kitchen can visit https://www.runewarkdining.com/jbjsoulkitchen/.