More than 41 million Americans could be going to bed hungry tonight. That’s one in seven.
That’s how many people the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service says are food insecure. Food insecure people are defined as those lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. One of the results is hunger.
You may think it isn’t an issue that affects people in your neck of the woods, but you’d be wrong.
Feeding America is a nonprofit organization tyring to feed America’s hungry through a network of food banks across the country. It says children and adults face hunger in every community across the US. Feeding America also says it could be your neighbor, your child’s classmate, or even a coworker that is struggling to get enough to eat.
Exacerbating the the problem is the fact more than 30 percent of the people in this country that can be considered food insecure are still living above the poverty line. That means they could go hungry, but still not qualify for federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
That’s why private nonprofit organizations like food banks are so important. They can help fill in that gap. The thing is, food banks rely on private donations to keep it up.
Setting an example for the casino and hospitality industry
Thankfully, at least one giant in the US casino and hospitality business understands the issue, and is setting a good example for the rest by doing something about it.
This week, MGM Resorts International, in partnership with Three Square Food Bank, announced a new standardized program for the safe collection, preservation and service of surplus banquet food aimed at helping reduce hunger in Southern Nevada.
MGM Resorts will be donating prepared but yet-to-be-served hot banquet food from various MGM Resorts’ properties to Three Square. Three Square is expected to use it to provide 800,000 nutritious meals to people combating hunger by the year 2020.
They’ve actually been running a pilot program from ARIA Resort & Casino since 2016. Three Square freezes the donated food through blast-chilling technology, then stores it until a need for it arises.
Perfectly good food that would otherwise go to waste
Together, MGM, Three Square, and a team of banquet chefs and food safety experts have develop protocols with proper food safety principles for recovering this food, which would otherwise go to waste. In fact, they saved more than 100,000 pounds of food, enough for over 80,000 meals, in a single year. And that was just from one MGM property.
MGM Resorts is giving Three Square a two-year $768,000 grant to help it create the infrastructure it needs to expand the program to other MGM properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, including Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage, and Mandalay Bay.
Let’s hope other casino and hospitality industry giants across the country see what’s happening here. Let’s also hope they figure out a way to follow MGM’s innovative lead on this. There has to be literally tons of surplus banquet food destined to fill dumpsters across the country. It could be filling the bellies of people who need it instead.
If enough US casino resorts start doing this, it won’t be long before 41 million Americans won’t have to go to bed hungry anymore.