MGM Resorts International Launches Food Donation Program to Fight Hunger
MGM Resorts International launched a new standardized program for the safe collection, preservation and service of surplus banquet food in a long-standing effort to reduce food waste and fight hunger in Southern Nevada.
Created in partnership with Three Square Food Bank, the new program will enable MGM Resorts to donate prepared but unserved hot banquet food to Three Square, which will then repurpose the food into wholesome meals. The program is expected to provide 800,000 nutritious meals by 2020 to people combatting hunger.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is one of the most serious public health challenges in the nation, with one in seven Americans unable to meet their regular nutritional needs to sustain a healthy life.
More than 279,000 people struggle with hunger in Southern Nevada, including 109,000 children, according to MGM Resorts officials.
“Food insecurity is an issue that means a lot to me, and to the 55,000 MGM Resorts employees who live and work in Southern Nevada,” said Phyllis A. James, chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer of MGM Resorts.
She continued, “Those who struggle with hunger in this community are our friends and our neighbors. We care about them. I believe those in privileged positions have a moral obligation to lend a helping hand to help pull up those in need. This new development gives us another tool in our collective community arsenal against hunger.”
After collecting prepared but unserved hot, surplus banquet food from MGM Resort properties, Three Square then freezes the food through blast-chilling technology and stores it until a community need arises. This gives hunger relief agencies the ability to order prepared entrees and menu items from the food bank and incorporate them into their ongoing meal planning.
The new standardized program is the result of a pilot program that was launched at ARIA Resort & Casino in 2016. Since then, a team of banquet chefs, food safety experts and others collaborated to develop protocols – emphasizing proper food safety principles – for large-scale recovery of surplus banquet food that would otherwise be thrown away.
In approximately a year’s time, more than 100,000 pounds of food – more than 80,000 meals – were donated.
In addition, MGM Resorts has awarded a two-year, $768,000 grant to Three Square to help the nonprofit create an infrastructure that will allow the program to expand to the company’s major convention resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, including Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage and Mandalay Bay. Meanwhile, the program will continue at ARIA.
“We are often asked what Las Vegas hotels do with their leftover food,” explained Brian Burton, president and CEO of Three Square Food Bank, which offers wholesome, nutritious food to nonprofit and faith-based organizations, schools and feeding sites serving a wide range of Southern Nevadans.
He continued, “Today, we have a consistent, scalable answer to that question, one that will feed more food insecure people in Southern Nevada. Combating food insecurity and hunger is a collaborative effort. MGM Resorts is helping to establish a successful, standardized process that others will be able to follow.”
Now that MGM Resorts and Three Square have developed standard operating procedures to ensure the safe, consistent and replicable collection of surplus banquet food, the company plans to make those best practices will be available to others over the next few months in hopes of inspiring similar action across the hospitality industry, according to MGM Resorts officials.
Fighting food insecurity is one of the company’s philanthropic areas of emphasis, with MGM Resorts playing a central role in the founding of Three Square in 2007.
In addition, the company’s Las Vegas employees have donated more than 3.3 million pounds of canned food to Three Square since 2010 and support the food bank’s efforts year-round through MGM Resorts Foundation donations and volunteer efforts.
Since Three Square’s founding, MGM Resorts employees have volunteered more than 47,000 hours to support the nonprofit’s mission.
MGM Resorts also participates in other aid to Three Square, such as Restaurant Week, and provided a $50,000 grant to fund the charity’s Back Pack for Kids program in 2016 and 2017, which ensures that school children struggling with hunger receive meals through the summer months.
Check out MGM Resorts International’s food donation program in action HERE.