NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers senior Ryan Morris is using food to fight New Jersey’s drug epidemic.

Morris is the founder of the Eat to Beat Foundation, which seeks to “educate and spread awareness about the dangers of drug addiction amongst today’s youth.”

Eat to Beat is putting on a fundraiser called Eat to Beat: Drug Addiction.

Four local restaurants—Brother Jimmy’s Barbecue, Papa Grande Grill, The Sushi Room, and Thomas Sweets—will be donating a portion of their proceeds to Steered Straight, Inc., as part of the campaign.

The Eat to Beat Foundation works in conjunction with Steered Straight, an organization that is “committed to providing real­ life, motivation messages about substance abuse, gang involvement, and bullying.”

This fundraiser is running from September 24 to September 26.

The restaurants will host celebrity diners, including world heavyweight boxer Jerry Cooney, Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Nicole Napolitano and Theresa Aprea, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame member Lou Esa, and radio personalities Bert Baron and Chris McCoy.

Diners can also enter a free drawing to win a Kindle, Rutgers football tickets, State Theatre tickets, and more.

Eat to Beat: Drug Addiction is hosting a community awareness event as well. It is holding a free screening of the award­winning documentary An American Epidemic, co­sponsored by Sunrise Detox Centers.

The screening will be held on Tuesday, September 22, from 6-8 pm at the Rutgers Cinema on Livingston campus.

The session will include a panel by drug addiction experts and audience Q&A.

The experts attending are:

  • Michael DeLeon, the founder of Steered Straight
  • Lisa Latnan of Rutgers’s Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance program
  • Kim Kelly Seber, the founder of Roots to Addiction
  • Amanda Bent, the New Jersey policy coordinator of the Drug Policy Alliance
  • John Moriarty of Sunrise Detox
  • Joel Pomales of Young People in Recovery
  • Sherry Trifiro of The Counseling Center

Morris founded the Eat to Beat Foundation after studying abroad in Rome, Italy last year.

“I grew up in an entrepreneurial family,” he says. “While I was in Rome I had to sit back and think about how I could make a positive impact in my community and my state in general.” He was also inspired by Start Something that Matters, a book by Toms founder Blake Mycoskie.

New Jersey’s drug problem was a natural cause for Morris. He has family connections to Steered Straight, and, as he says, the drug problem is everywhere—“it’s in our backyards.”

More information can be found on Eat to Beat: Drug Addiction’s Facebook page.