Connecticut Tribal Casinos Donate Tons of Food to Needy, Newly Unemployed

Posted on: March 24, 2020, 07:57h. 

Last updated on: March 24, 2020, 10:15h.

Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are among the many shuttered Native American gaming properties which are donating multiple pallets of food to the needy, especially those who recently lost jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak. Most deliveries were made to food pantries in the past week for quick distribution, so perishable food remained fresh.

Fresh produce is among the tons of food donated by Foxwoods Resort Casino to a regional food bank in Connecticut after the casino was closed by the coronavirus outbreak. (Image: Norwich Bulletin)

Foxwoods Resort Casino gave more than 22,000 pounds of food to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank located in eastern Connecticut. That works out to 18,355 meals.

Mohegan Sun donated close to 15,000 meals to the same food bank. It represents two truckloads of food.

Faced with refrigerators full of food across various Mohegan Sun dining outlets, and a temporary closure … underway due to the emerging global health crisis, Mohegan Sun jumped into action … to donate what amounted to twenty pallets of food that included fruit, vegetables, dairy products and other perishable food items,” the tribal casino said in a statement.

“The donation … will be shared amongst a network of 60-plus traditional pantries across Southeastern Connecticut and … ten monthly mobile food pantry distributions.”

Since the pandemic hit Connecticut, the Moran food bank has experienced lower contributions, according to the Norwich Bulletin newspaper. At the same time, there has been more demand.

Statewide, more than 100,000 unemployment claims were filed since March 13 in Connecticut. That represents about six percent of Connecticut’s total workforce as of the start of 2020, The Hour newspaper reported.

It’s been a tough week for many communities and businesses alike, but to team up with United Way of Southeastern CT and ensure we make good use of a significant amount of surplus food, was really inspiring,” said a statement from Jeff Hamilton, President and General Manager of Mohegan Sun. “We’re incredibly thankful to everyone who was involved in this effort and hope it is a positive contribution to the dedicated work that organizations like United Way and food centers like Gemma E. Moran do every day.”

In Michigan, Gun Lake Casino donated more than 2.75 tons of food to the needy. It is operated by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians.

“We recognize this is a worrisome time for all, especially for the families who may be unable to afford food,” Sal Semola, President and COO for Gun Lake Casino, was quoted by Native News Online.

Four Winds casinos in South Bend, Indiana and New Buffalo, Michigan together donated 7,450 pounds of food, such as bakery goods, dairy products, fish, and produce. It represents nine pallets of food that will go to feed needy recipients in Indiana and Michigan.

“Given the recent closure of our casino locations and the uncertainty of the evolving coronavirus situation, we felt compelled to donate these unused foods items as soon as possible so they could be used by community members in need,” Matthew Wesaw, tribal chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, said in a statement. “We hope it will bring comfort to recipients during this challenging time.”

Washington State Tribes Donate Food

In hard-hit Washington state, Tulalip Tribes’ Quil Ceda Creek Casino donated nearly 2,700 pounds of food to the Marysville Food Bank.

Among the donation was 885 pounds of bread and baked goods, 900 pounds of meat, and 900 pounds of produce, the Marysville Globe reported.

Also, in Washington state, the Stillaguamish Tribe contributed food from the Angel Of The Winds Casino Resort to needy employees and local food banks.

Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Indiana Casinos Heed the Call

Commercial casino companies have also made significant food donations. MGM Resorts International has donated tens of thousands of pounds of food in the states where the casino giant operates.

In Las Vegas, MGM joined Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos, and Boyd Gaming in donating hundreds of pallets of perishable food. Totally, MGM says its food donations will result in 400,000 meals being served to those in need in local communities.

In Indiana, Caesar Entertainment’s Horseshoe Hammond Casino donated 30,000 pounds of food to Campagna Academy in Schererville and the Meals on Wheels program, according to Inside Indiana Business. Also, in New Jersey, all nine of Atlantic City’s casinos donated food to the needy.

As of Monday, 973 or more commercial and tribal casinos were closed by the coronavirus outbreak. That represents about 98 percent of US gaming properties, according to data from the American Gaming Association, NBC News reported.