Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 | 2:41 p.m.
Serving the homeless in Southern Nevada meals of “dignity and class” may provide the inspiration they need to take the next steps out of poverty, speakers at a food drive event said today.
The Surplus Banquet Food Donation Program, a joint effort of MGM Resorts and Three Square Food Bank, is expanding to provide 800,000 unserved banquet meals from five MGM properties to food-insecure Southern Nevada residents by 2020.
“This is dignity and passion coming alive for those who have the greatest needs,” said Deacon Thomas Roberts, CEO of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. “This is not a handout but a hand up.”
Roberts was one of several speakers at the event at Three Square Food Bank’s headquarters in the northeast valley, near Nellis Air Force Base.
Phyllis James, chief diversity officer for MGM Resorts, said the food donated from the Aria, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Mirage isn’t scraps or leftovers. It’s fresh, warm food picked up by Three Square trucks before being blast-chilled at its warehouse, frozen for no more than 90 days and eventually distributed to those in need.
The program, which coordinates with other charities, has provided 80,000 meals since it was established at the Aria in August 2016.
With an announced donation today of $768,000 from MGM Resorts to Three Square, the program will soon include the casino company’s other four Las Vegas convention properties, James said.
“We need to vanquish what has become a day-by-say struggle for many human beings in our community,” she said.
More than 279,000 Nevadans are considered food-insecure, meaning they live “plate-by-plate and don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Three Square CEO Brian Burton said.
The food bank provided 40 million pounds of food last year in Southern Nevada for people struggling with hunger, Burton said. At least 50 million pounds a year is needed to satisfy the region’s food-insecure population, he said.
Burton called the Surplus Banquet Food Donation Program “instrumental” in helping to meet that goal. “This is a great place to start,” he said.