East Hampton rock legend and rosé maestro Jon Bon Jovi has joined the effort to help feed local families in need. On Friday, May 11, the musician’s Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation announced the formation of their new JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank to service East End food pantries.
“With local organizations struggling to meet rising need as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has pledged to finance the food bank—which begins distributing food today—to bolster local efforts to combat food insecurity throughout the summer,” the announcement explains. Bon Jovi and his wife Dorthea Bongiovi heard about local pantries being overwhelmed by growing demand and decided to put their 15 years of experience battling homelessness and hunger to work through their foundation.
“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,” Bon Jovi said in a statement.
They reached out to local community leaders, food banks and pantry operators to create a plan, and within three weeks, the JBJ Soul Foundation had contracted with food distributor US Foods and partnered with Island Harvest Food Bank, a leading Long Island hunger-relief organization, to better understand the community’s needs. The couple then met with East Hampton Indoor Tennis (EHIT) managing partner Scott Rubenstein and his family, who donated space at their massive recreation complex, The Clubhouse, to host the effort.
Unlike a pantry, the JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank is a charitable entity that solicits, receives, stores and distributes large quantities of purchased or donated food and grocery products to the community through food pantries. And Bon Jovi’s star power and connections should go a long way toward bringing in donations.
“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,” Dorothea Bongiovi said.
Echoing that sentiment, Island Harvest Food Bank president and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner adds, “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.” Dresner said she’s looking forward to working with the JBJ Soul Foundation to make sure no one goes hungry on the East End.
“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,” Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center Executive Director Bonnie Michelle Cannon says, noting she, too, is glad to be part of the effort.
Working with several pantries, the JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank aims to provide food for 5,000 individuals monthly, with plans to reassess need at the end of the summer. It will also be adding pre-made Soul Kitchen meals for those struggling with homelessness or who might not have access to cooking facilities. Food and essential items will continue to be distributed among community members through existing food pantries—all in accordance with established protocols recommended by public health experts.
Learn more about JBJ Soul Foundation at jbjsf.org.