Jon Bon Jovi is not just a famous rocker from New Jersey.
He’s also a philanthropist who has been helping feed the hungry in the Garden State for years now with his JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants, where diners pay what they can.
This Saturday, October 7, the eighth annual JBJ Soul Kitchen Chili Cookoff will be held at nonprofit’s Toms River restaurant. First responders from all over will compete in the fundraiser by cooking up their favorite chili recipes.
Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, usually serve as unannounced judges at the event—so if you’re a fan, it’s potentially a chance to catch a sighting.
To date, JBJ Soul Kitchen has provided 173,870 meals to the hungry. The organization’s community restaurants, run by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, serve both paying and in-need customers. Individuals and families can enjoy a delicious farm-to-table meal with dignity, in a warm, welcoming setting. Reservations are not necessary.
The restaurants are operated on a “pay it forward” model, where those who are unable to pay are encouraged to join the Soul Kitchen community to learn about resources and volunteer opportunities.
For those who can pay, they are asked to pay a suggested donation for their meal ($20 for lunch/$30 for dinner in Red Bank and $20 for lunch/dinner in Toms River), and “pay it forward” $20 to cover someone’s meal who is unable to afford it.
The restaurants are located in Toms River and Red Bank, at Rutgers University-Newark, and at New Jersey City University in Jersey City.
“Our Chili Cookoff is my favorite event of the year,” says Joanne Gwin, community coordinator of JBJ Soul Kitchen in Toms River. “It is a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together. Attendees have the chance to support and thank our first responders for their service, along with supporting JBJ Soul Kitchen.”
Fire, EMS and police departments, as well as first-aid squads, compete for first-, second- and third-place honors in the annual event. Last year’s winner was Union Beach PBA Local 291.
Presale admission is $20; tickets purchased at the door are $30. Children 12 and younger can enter free of charge.
This year, JBJ Soul Kitchen will also be selling beautiful ceramic bowls, crafted by students throughout New Jersey, for $20. Funds will support people who are battling food insecurity.
In addition, local food bank People’s Pantry will be collecting nonperishable food items.
The fundraiser will take place at 1769 Hooper Avenue in Toms River on October 7, from 1 to 4 pm.
For more info, go to jbjsoulkitchen.org/chili-cook-off-2023.
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