On Tuesday, May 12, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation opened a new food bank to feed East End families in need. Located at The Clubhouse in East Hampton, Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi, who have a home in East Hampton, have created JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank to help local food pantries meet the rising need of those suffering from food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic has strained food distribution networks around the country, and after hearing from organizations on the ground about its local impact, the need for a food bank on the East End became clear to us,” said Jon Bon Jovi. Three weeks ago, the rocker reached out to Edward Burke Jr and Associates, one of the leading law firms on the East End, to pinpoint an operations location.
“The Clubhouse Camp building is a very suitable place to act as a hub for this entity. God bless the Rubentsteins for allowing this to take place. Totally charitable effort on all fronts,” Burke said, who solidified the connection through the family’s son, Matthew Rubenstein. The team successfully contracted with food distributor U.S. Foods, and constructed an association with Island Harvest Food Bank.
“No ZIP code on Long Island is immune to hunger and food insecurity, and the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has created a new standard of need, including among people who have never accessed the region’s emergency feeding programs,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of the Island Harvest Food Bank. “We look forward to working with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in addressing the critical issue of hunger on Long Island’s East End.”
It truly takes a village. Through the swift action of the East Hampton Town Board, food arrived at the 5000-square-foot facility on May 11 and pantries were able to load their trucks the following day.
The food bank acts as a warehouse for grocery needs — its staff solicits, receives, stores, and distributes large quantities of food and grocery store products to the food pantries, which then place it in the hands of local families. The JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank’s goal is to provide food for 5000 individuals a month. Phase two will include pre-made Soul Kitchen meals for the homeless or those without access to cooking facilities, which will utilize The Clubhouse’s kitchen.
“My family is so grateful to be included in this,” said Scott Rubenstein, managing partner of The Clubhouse. The awe of trucks and vans filled with food, in only a few days, has elicited hope for a greater good, he said, adding he admires the Bon Jovis’ motivation to help. “They are soldiers, in the trenches with everybody. I’m appreciative to Burke and the Bon Jovis for considering us. It’s exciting, we’ve never done anything like this. It’s another level. That’s the hidden thing out here, there are a lot of people who need help. And now they have hope.”
“When most people think about the towns of the East End, they don’t necessarily think about hunger, but for many, it is a reality,” said Dorothea. The famed family is no stranger to charitable causes. Since its inception in 2006 the JBJ Soul Foundation, a nonprofit based out of Philadelphia, has been addressing homelessness and hunger on localized levels — funding over 700 units of housing and shelters across 11 states and Washington D.C. In 2011, the mission expanded to address food insecurity with JBJ Soul Kitchen community restaurants in New Jersey, serving over 100,000 meals to diners in need.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we have seen demand nearly triple from the after-school families and senior populations we serve. Before, we served approximately 70 people on the first Thursday of every month. Now we serve approximately 200 people per week,” said Bonnie Cannon, executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center. “I am so glad to be part of this endeavor.”
Having played an integral role in the JBJ Food Bank, Burke and his sons will also dedicate their time to helping the cause. “It is such a pleasure to be part of this and to see the time effort and the passion that Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea have for feeding the hungry. Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen Foundation is the pocketbook for this incredible gesture,” said Burke.
With plans to reassess the need level at the end of summer, it seems Bon Jovi and Dorothea will be around for a while. Rubenstein said, “The only issue I have is that I don’t want to look at Jon’s New England Patriots hat for the next few months. But I love the Patriots, they helped us win the Super Bowl.”
Visit www.jbjsoulkitchen.org to find out more.or
With additional reporting by T.E. McMorrow.