MGM Resorts partnering with Three Square to fight hunger in Southern Nevada
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
One in seven. That's how many Southern Nevadans go to sleep hungry every night.
But now, hotel giant MGM Resorts is doing something about it and it involves surplus banquet food from their properties.
To be clear, they are not food scraps. This is food that never made it out of the banquet hall kitchen. MGM Resorts is using this to partner with Three Square Food Bank, fighting hunger in our community.
"When you don't need it, you kind of turn a blind eye. But when you live it, it's like good Lord, this is going on in this country?" said Catholic Charities client Andrew Hustak.
Hustak showed up at Catholic Charities four months ago, financially wiped out by medical bills after not one, but two wives died from cancer.
"I didn't know where to go, I've never been in that position. Homeless, no food, no money," said Hustak.
Like so many others, he was taken in and served a hot meal, which is why he says news of the special partnership between MGM Resorts and Three Square Food Bank is something to celebrate.
"It's not like somebody opened up a can and threw something on a plate for you. It's good, hot, nutritious food," said Hustak.
Here's how it works. Surplus banquet food that never left the kitchen is now being donated to the food bank. It is blast-chilled then stored in a freezer until it can be delivered to agency partners like Catholic Charities.
Yalmaz Siddiqui is Vice President of Corporate Sustainability with MGM.
"We took a lot of time and effort and paid attention to what are the right protocols to keep this food safe, so when it leaves us it is safe," said Siddiqui.
The idea started as a pilot program at Aria. In just over a year, 80,000 meals were donated.
Now, it's expanding to banquet facilities at MGM, Bellagio, Mirage, and Mandalay Bay.
By 2020, it's expected 800,000 meals will be handed over.
President and CEO of Three Square, Brian Burton, says the need is tremendous.
"Even with unemployment down we still have one out of seven people in the community that worry about where their next meal is coming from. That's 279,000 people," said Burton.
To cover any staffing, equipment, or transportation costs, MGM Resorts is also giving the food bank a $768,000 grant, taking what wasn't used on the Strip and delivering it to exactly where it's needed most.
In the past, much of the surplus food was mingled with garbage and sent over to the pig farm. The problem was always figuring out how to keep it safe for human consumption.
Now, MGM is hoping other companies can copy this program.