When we eat a home-cooked meal, fresh off the stove, with our friends and family in the comforts of our home, we sometimes forget the people on the streets who can barely afford to feed themselves anything. One man with a vision and a kind heart has been trying to change lives for those who can’t afford to feed themselves.
Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley, have set up their community restaurant called JBJ Soul Kitchen, a place where the hungry can find love and respect as they dine at the table. “All are welcome at our table where locally-sourced ingredients, dignity, and respect are always on the menu,” says their website.
They are located at two places and the famous rockstar is all geared to open the third outlet for JBJ Soul Kitchen at Rutgers-Newark so that struggling students who may not be able to afford their next meal can eat, as reported by NJ.com.
Bon Jovi gives all the credit for the idea to Hurley, whom he’s been married to for about three decades. One day, while they were sitting on the couch, Hurley leaned forward towards her husband to say “I have this idea,” he recalled.
“It was genius,” Bon Jovi told CBS News. Today, the tables at both their restaurants are filled with people; some of the diners are donors and the rest are people who are always afraid of when and where they will get their next meal.
The restaurant runs on both donations and voluntary services. Those who can pay the donation of $20 are able to buy a meal for someone else along with themselves. Those who cannot afford the suggested donation can offer to volunteer at the restaurant and enjoy a hearty meal, composed of classic farm-to-table cuisine.
While talking about the initiative, Hurley said, “Hunger doesn’t look like what your mind’s eye might imagine. It’s the people at your church. It’s the kids that go to school with your kids. And I think that was eye-opening for a lot of the community here that said, ‘Oh, there’s no homeless people here.’ And they look around the restaurant, and I say, ‘I can name five people right now that I know are homeless in this restaurant right now, but they don’t look like what you think they’re gonna look like.”
With food insecurity increasingly becoming a problem among college students, the couple is now partnering with Rutgers University-Newark and Gourmet Dining to open JBJ Soul Kitchen RU-N on campus in January 2020.
When the couple was asked why they chose a college campus as the location for their next JBJ Soul Kitchen, Bon Jovi shared, “When you send your kids off to school, you don’t think about, after tuition, books, living, what’s left for food? And so few are on meal plans to begin with. And that’s another reason why they’re eating ramen noodles. We all think it’s the right of passage – to study hard and eat the ramen noodles. But how about if it’s the only thing you can afford?”
As long as it’s called for, Bon Jovi’s foundation plans to continue opening up more branches of JBJ Soul Kitchen. And side-by-side, the husband and wife continue along the path to fighting hunger. Hurley said, “It does restore your faith in humanity. Because people will, I believe, given the opportunity help another human being. And that’s what we see here all the time.”
Through his venture, Bon Jovi has found that what makes him feel good is doing good for others. He was asked by the interviewer, “How does this compare to an arena of screaming fans?”
And he replied, “It can obviously never compare to performing or writing songs. But what it does do is it gives you the same sense of fulfillment, I think, when we leave here at night. That’s why I say: the way to feel good is to do good, you know? Find your good, and do it.”