Spotlight on: Food for Thought by the Sea in collaboration with Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County

By Jen Egan

Restaurateur Marilyn Schlossbach prides herself in lifting up the communities in which she does business. When she arrived in Asbury Park, amidst its vibrant opening nearly 20 years ago, she saw an opportunity.  Through food, beverage and local partnerships, she endeavored to “mend some of the disruption,” that the rapid influx of new business imposed on the long-standing community. 

It began with community dinners in her restaurants – including holidays – that created connections to many nonprofits in Asbury.  Soon after, she was partnering on surf, art and gardening programs for kids.  Schlossbach’s vision for the nonprofit she founded, Food for Thought by the Sea, was to engage in collaborative programs with other nonprofits. One of the first was the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County, which she credits for doing a remarkable job elevating all of the different opportunities available to kids in the community. 

“The Boys and Girls Club has always been in this age bracket of kids that we can tap into as a culture and community because they haven’t gotten to a point where they’re jaded or they’ve fallen into something they can’t get out of,” said Schlossbach. 

As new hospitality continued its sprawl into town, it neglected to hire Asbury Park residents. Schlossbach recognized that youth here could benefit from developing a hospitality skill set, the basis of which is communication.  Marilyn realized that her Food for Thought food truck could be just the platform – literally a vehicle for change – where kids could learn critical soft skills through hospitality training. While the concept was sound, more funding would be necessary to program it as Schlossbach intended. 

An inaugural member of Impact 100 Jersey Coast, Schlossbach says she is “floored” by the organization and how effective it is at “helping small organizations do really important things in their community.” At the helm of a grass roots organization primarily funded by herself and her customers, Schlossbach needed a partner to meet the financial criteria for an Impact grant. She applied “over and over,” tweaking the concept and the collaborator through several grant cycles. 

“Even if you don’t get the grant,” she acknowledges, “you get exposure to all of these women in your community that have the ability to not just raise money for you, but raise awareness for you and volunteer. It’s amazing!”

Finally in November of 2022, Schlossbach was handed the ‘big check’ alongside Doug Eagles, chief collaborator and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County. Eagles executed on helping identify a group of kids who would find success by working on the truck via the club’s “Teen Night” program. Meanwhile, Destiny Smith, the club’s Area Director for Asbury stays on top of the individual challenges faced by each of these kids for whom clean clothes, a place to shower and a stable living environment are not always available. Smith and her team play a key role in providing the support these kids need to show up for the job. 

The truck is currently operating at Northeats where the kids are preparing and selling food from the summer menu, including tacos, and at The St. Laurent hotel where they offer food service poolside every Tuesday.  They are making great progress developing the life skills that a real job requires like keeping a schedule and doing their payroll. Schlossbach notes that the kids are so excited when they receive a tip. “They feel like they put a day of work in at a job where all of these people want them to succeed and are here to help.” 

Beyond support of the food truck program, Impact 100 JC members have stepped up to help the Boys & Girls Club fulfill needed items on its wish list

Smith relayed a need for games, yoga mats and drawstring bags. Over 100 of these items were donated earlier this month at a member event as well as six bikes to provide transportation for the kids working on the food truck. High on Schlossbach’s wish list is more Board Members to keep the momentum going.

“I don’t expect we’re going to change a million kids with this program,” said Schlossbach. “But, if we change one and then they change one and they change one, you create a movement, and that’s what we intend to do with this.”   

Food for Thought in collaboration with Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County


Food for Thought by the Sea provides a platform for nonprofit collaboration to improve underserved communities in Monmouth County and beyond. 


To bring combined expertise in youth development, food service and hospitality to provide a youth workforce development program centered around soft-skills training, financial literacy education, social emotional skill-building and entrepreneurship. 

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