Bon Jovi opens hunger centre in shore town hit hard by Sandy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bon Jovi opens hunger centre in shore town hit hard by Sandy

Jon Bon Jovi, back at podium, stands near crates of potatoes, apples and turnips and pallets of canned ravioli and green beans, as he addresses a gathering during a grand opening of Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation's B.E.A.T. Center, which stands for Bringing Everyone All Together, Tuesday, May 10, 2016 in Toms River, N.J. The center is designed as a one-stop facility to help people get food stamps, health care and culinary-related job training. It also provides meals for at-risk children and seniors.opens an anti-hunger center in a section of the New Jersey shore devastated by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
May 11, 2016 - 6:16 AM

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Jon Bon Jovi knows he can't help society by curing cancer or splitting atoms. But he can use his celebrity to command the attention of millions of people, including some of the wealthiest and most powerful.

The Sayreville, New Jersey-born rocker and his wife, Dorothea Bongiovi, are joining with local charities and wealthy fellow philanthropists to tackle hunger and poverty in a shore town that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

He and his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation held a grand opening Tuesday for the B.E.A.T. Center, which stands for Bringing Everyone All Together. The centre includes the second JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurant, where those in need can do volunteer work for their meals, and paying customers donate toward the cost of the volunteers' food by purchasing a "Pay It Forward" certificate. The first one opened in Red Bank in 2011.

The centre in Toms River is designed as a one-stop facility to help people apply for nutritional assistance benefits and health care, and get culinary-related job training.

The singer best known for rock anthems like "Livin' On A Prayer," ''You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Wanted Dead Or Alive" said hunger is something he can actually do something about.

"We didn't need scientists to find a cure," he said. "There are so many wonderful causes and so many passionate people that are addressing them. We have been inspired by so many of our in-need neighbours who have come seeking help."

He and several others active with the centre said one of its main goals is not just to feed the lines at food pantries but also to permanently shorten them.

"We serve people with dignity," added his wife, Dorothea. "You get great food and volunteer for the meal, and we ask our paying customers to pay it forward and pay for the volunteers' meals. That's part of our sustainability model."

Bon Jovi said many area residents are still recovering from Sandy and don't have enough nutritious food to eat. But he said the need predated the storm in Ocean County, where one in five residents is low-income or lives in poverty.

"This is happening across our nation," he said. "When there's 15 per cent of children going to be hungry at night in a nation like ours, that's not an issue it takes a scientist to solve."

Toms River was one of the hardest-hit communities during Sandy, which struck Oct. 29, 2012. The nearby Ortley Beach section was devastated, and many homes and businesses still have not been rebuilt as the fourth summer after the storm approaches.

Bon Jovi is partnering with the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, The Peoples Pantry and the David Tepper Charitable Foundation to provide $5 million in services to needy families in the B.E.A.T. Center's first year of operation.

The centre joins other charitable endeavours undertaken by Bon Jovi, including the construction of 440 units of affordable housing for homeless or low-income families and donations to numerous Sandy relief efforts.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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