“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).