“The B.E.A.T. Center is the beginning of something great.” – Jon Bon Jovi
Three non-profit partners today open the doors of The B.E.A.T. Center, a unique food and resource hub that will change lives in Ocean County, NJ
“Whether you need access to a food pantry, want to learn about health care benefits or social services, or even receive training through our culinary program, this is a place where everyone is welcome. It is in the true spirit of collaboration that we, the community benefit.”
– Jon Bon Jovi, Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation
Toms River, NJ (May 10, 2016) – The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Peoples Pantry (INSPIRE NJ) and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation announced today the opening of The B.E.A.T. Center (Bringing Everyone All Together) – a place where families and individuals can access food, job training and resources to help end the cyclical causes of hunger in Ocean County.
This “one-stop shop” will serve as a FoodBank satellite location that includes a food distribution center, production kitchen for at-risk children in after school programs, culinary skills training program and resources such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program also known as food stamps), healthcare and free tax preparation, as well as the permanent home of Peoples Pantry, a client-choice model food pantry and a second location of JBJ Soul Kitchen, a non-profit community restaurant where diners can pay for their meal by making a minimum donation of $10 or volunteering to work in the kitchen and restaurant.
“The B.E.A.T. Center functions like a 21st century town square where programs and services are brought together and where the community can gather to get help and give help,” said FoodBank Executive Director, Carlos Rodriguez. “We know that there are 1 in 8 people in Ocean County who struggle with hunger. We support 134 feeding programs in Ocean County and the need for resources beyond food is critical. We aim to shorten the food lines by providing a variety of resources that lead to financial health and wellbeing. Having all of that under one roof is a game changer.”
Ocean County is New Jersey’s fastest growing county and was “ground zero” for Hurricane Sandy. According to FEMA, over 40,000 structures in the county were damaged or destroyed in the storm – 55% of the state’s total. The creation of The B.E.A.T. Center is in response to the reality that today, more than three years after the storm, there are thousands of families who are still struggling to regain housing, financial stability and to overcome food insecurity—and they are turning to local agencies in record numbers for assistance.
“Of all of the lessons learned from Sandy, the most jarring one was how financially stretched our middle class neighbors are. This collaboration will allow us to continue our work and provide the services that are so desperately needed and deserved by this underserved demographic,” said Patricia Donaghue, Executive Director of The Peoples Pantry (INSPIRE NJ).
Ocean County Hunger Facts:
1 in 5 Ocean County residents are low-income (200% of poverty) or poor (at or below poverty) – that’s $15,000 for a family of 4.
71,300 residents, or 1 in 8 people in Ocean County receive food and benefits.
Seniors make up 21.4% of the population compared to the 14.1% statewide.
Nearly 13% of New Jersey’s veterans live in Ocean County.
There are 134 feeding programs in Ocean County. Programs include Pantries, Mobile Sites, Soup Kitchens, Shelters, After School and Back Pack, Senior Food and others.
The impact of this collaboration is projected to provide $5 million in support to families in need in its first year. One of The B.E.A.T. Center’s goals is to also establish a strong, visible presence in Ocean County that will raise hunger awareness, attract volunteers and advocates, and encourage food donations and financial support. The B.E.A.T. Center is being launched with initial philanthropic support from The David Tepper Foundation, and a generous grant from the OceanFirst Foundation.
“We are excited to be involved in the creation of the B.E.A.T. Center,” said David Tepper, founder of the David Tepper Charitable Foundation, Inc. “This is a unique partnership and fresh approach to meeting the needs of those members of our community that are suffering economic hardship. The B.E.A.T. Center brings a combination of critical yet basic services under one roof and provides our citizens with a central location where they can get the help they need. It’s a tremendous concept and we are confident that facilities like the B.E.A.T. Center can become a model to help families attain food security and financial stability.”
The B.E.A.T. Center is now open to the public. It is located at 1769 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ, and is accessible by public transportation. For more information and to learn how to help, please visit www.thebeatcenter.org.
About The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties
The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties began in 1984, when three people saw hunger at the Jersey Shore and decided to make a difference. They purchased a small, dilapidated warehouse in Spring Lake. Carpenters, masons and other members of the community donated work, office furniture and supplies. Food streamed in from hundreds of donors. After one year, the FoodBank was serving 25 charities with 100,000 pounds of food.
Today, the FoodBank is the primary provider of food and services to a network of over 300 partner agencies. Together, they support more than 11 million meals annually, including 2 million pounds of fresh produce. They serve individuals and families in need, and reach 1 in 10 people in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. In Ocean County, 71,300 residents or 1 in 8 people receive food and resources. Client services links households to SNAP and affordable healthcare benefits, free tax preparation and career development opportunities, including a Culinary Skills Training Program.
The FoodBank is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to alleviate hunger and build food security in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. They receive the highest ranking of 4 stars from Charity Navigator and are a member of Feeding America. A total of 96 cents out of every dollar raised supports food and programs. A $1 donation can provide up to 3 meals. They aim to feed the food lines while working to shorten them. To learn more, please visit www.fulfillnj.org.
About the Soul Foundation and the JBJ Soul Kitchen
Since 2006, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has provided solutions and opportunity for families and individuals in economic despair. The organization assists in establishing programs that provide food and affordable housing for those affected by poverty and homelessness, while supporting social services and job-training programs.
The Soul Foundation has helped provide over 500 units of affordable housing and shelter in 10 states for thousands of people who were formerly homeless or of low-income. In October 2011, the Foundation expanded its services by opening the JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, NJ to address issues of food insecurity.
The community kitchen serves nutritious, culinary dishes in a restaurant atmosphere, diners contribute either volunteer hours or a monetary donation for their meals. The Soul Kitchen is on target on target to serve its 50,000th meal in May and recently reached the goal of 51% of the diners paying and 49% in-need. The JBJ Soul Kitchen runs the Employment and Empowerment Team (EET) Program which connects a team of professionals with qualified volunteers. This award winning program aids with resume writing, interview skills, job coaching, financial counseling and legal advice. As the Foundation continues to expand, the goal is to assist with rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one SOUL at a time. For more information, please visit our website at www.jbjsf.org or www.jbjsoulkitchen.org
About The Peoples Pantry (INSPIRE NJ)
Hurricane Sandy roared into Ocean County on October 29, 2012 with a fierce vengeance that destroyed homes, cars and lives. Residents were shocked at the devastation.
Since that day, the people of Ocean County have come together to help those whose lives and cherished possessions were destroyed by wind, waves and water. During the storm, and in its aftermath, Toms River Regional Schools provided shelters to assist people who were displaced. Many donations were accepted gratefully. The Peoples Pantry was born to get the donations that flooded the community into the hands of those who needed them most.
In December 2012, the Peoples Pantry was turned over to Executive Director Pat Donaghue. Since that time, Pat and her team at Inspire NJ have created a relief center that provides food and services to thousands of clients. The Peoples Pantry now has a Board of Trustees, a dedicated volunteer staff and has become the model for choice pantries. The Peoples Pantry was seeded in the storm and is rooted in Ocean County. For more information, please visit www.thepeoplespantry.org.
About the David Tepper Charitable Foundation
The David Tepper Charitable Foundation is a 501 (c)3 focused on providing basic needs, improving education, and immigration-related issues. The Foundation and its founder, David Tepper, believe that it is important to give those affected by poverty a helping hand to overcome everyday obstacles and have long supported numerous New Jersey organizations with this mission. During the 2008 financial crises, the Foundation and Appaloosa provided substantial support and operational resources to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and other essential organizations statewide to ensure they survived and were well-positioned to help those in need. This effort resulted in these critical institutions having the best infrastructure in the tri-state area, enabling them to respond quickly to the needs of New Jersey residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Foundation and Appaloosa continue to provide major support for these organizations.