Newswise — Gerald Shreiber, president and CEO of J&J Snack Foods Corp. of Pennsauken, N.J., has committed $3 million to establish The Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program of Rowan University.
Shreiber’s gift will establish an endowment to create a self-sustaining program bringing certified therapy dogs to Rowan’s Glassboro, N.J., campus.
“It is a pleasure for me to give back to the community,” Shreiber said. “I can think of nothing better than (the experience of) our young students striving for education, complemented by therapy dogs.”
Rowan is committed to providing an environment where all students can thrive, and research has demonstrated that positive human-animal interactions improve the physical, emotional and psychological experiences of college students.
“This gift will ensure our continued ability to deliver resources to enhance the health and well-being of our students and the entire Rowan community,” said Rowan President Ali Houshmand. “The social, emotional and physical well-being of our student body is always at the forefront of what we do.”
“We thank Mr. Shreiber for his generosity, his ongoing support of the University and his commitment to our students’ well-being,” Houshmand said.
Although college is often exciting and engaging, it can trigger feelings of homesickness, upheaval and stress for some students. As students strain conventional mental health resources at institutions across the nation, schools have begun searching for alternatives, including the use of therapy dogs on college campuses.
Over the past three years, Rowan’s Wellness Center offered “Paws for a Break,” a program that enables students to interact with certified therapy dogs, and it’s become a popular and well-attended outreach effort.
Establishing dedicated funding, the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program will complement treatment by Rowan health care facilitators by supporting students and helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression through targeted events, initiatives and services.
“A dog therapy program will enhance the general health and well-being of Rowan students and address emerging experiences of stress, loneliness, depression and anxiety,” said Dr. David Rubenstein, Rowan’s vice president for Health & Wellness.
Rowan will hire a full-time coordinator to oversee program logistics, including managing volunteer handlers and dogs through certified therapy dog organizations, coordinating schedules for animal visits and creating a required training program for program volunteers.
The University will create an office for staff and a resting place for the certified therapy dogs while they are on campus, as well as a permanent fenced outdoor space that is dog-friendly. The program is scheduled to begin in Fall 2019.
About Gerald B. Shreiber
A generous supporter of Rowan University, in 2014 Shreiber established the Gerald B. Shreiber Scholarship to recognize the academic achievements of students who are majoring in entrepreneurship in the William G. Rohrer College of Business. To date, he has contributed $300,000 to the scholarship fund, and 30 recipients have received financial awards.
Shreiber’s rise to business success is a true “rags-to-riches” story. Born in Bridgeton and raised in Atlantic City, he began his career as a machine shop trainee at Kulicke & Soffa, eventually moving into production and later into sales management. He went on to start his own firm manufacturing specialty machine parts, selling it in 1970.
In 1971, he bought a bankrupt soft pretzel company with eight employees and $400,000 in annual sales and turned it into J&J Snack Foods. Today, the company boasts more than 4,000 employees and more than $1 billion in annual sales with leading brands such as SUPERPRETZEL, ICEE, Luigi’s and Minute Maid.
One of the consummate niche players in the multi-billion-dollar snack food and beverage industry, J&J Snack Foods has been recognized as a seven-time winner on the Forbes list of 200 Best Small Companies.
An active philanthropist and animal lover, Shreiber has received many awards, including the Gold Heart Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Variety Club. The Animal Adoption Center honored also honored him as South Jersey Humanitarian of the Year.
He created his own foundation, SAFE (Shreiber Animal Foundation Enterprise), which made a transformational gift to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to establish a pet therapy program. The foundation also funded a pet therapy program at Virtua Hospital.
Shreiber has served on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Center of Atlantic County, as well as the Federation of Jewish Charities. He also has supported a host of charities, including the ALS Association, CHOP, the Golden Slipper Camp, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the United Way.