Pechanga Warehouse team member Darren Henderson lifts eggs on a pallet jack. (Photo Courtesy Pechanga Resort Casino)
Tribal casinos nationwide have temporarily shut down to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Meanwhile, their restaurants are stepping up to care for their communities — donating tons of excess food.
Pechanga Resort Casino Donated Nearly $100,000 Worth of Food
Pechanga Resort Casino’s temporary closure has shut down not only its casino, hotel, spa and golf course, but also the resort’s 20 bars and restaurants and banquet kitchens.
All those orders of food and beverages are not going to waste.
Dozens of giant, 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery. Pallets of fresh ripe strawberries and blackberries. Thousands of pounds of cantaloupes and honeydew melons. Ten thousand dollars in milk (461 gallons) and dairy products alone.
All of this and a lot more was sent in March by Pechanga to three charities in Riverside County that regularly support disadvantaged and homeless people in the region. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, these groups have been even harder hit.
“We’re happy to know that people who need it most in our region will be getting the food assistance they need during this difficult time,” said Jared Munoa, President of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “It’s a lot of food. The amount of food service our team provides can be staggering and we give our guests the best quality. We are very glad it’s going to deserving folks who are undergoing unprecedented circumstances.” Pechanga’s closure was announced to last through the end of March, and its team members are receiving their base pay and benefits during that time.
Gun Lake Casino Gives 7 Tons of Food to Michigan Charities
While the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians’ gaming enterprise is voluntarily closed, it’s supporting its neighbors.
“We recognize this is a worrisome time for all, especially for the families who may be unable to afford food,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for Gun Lake Casino.
The Michigan-based enterprise has donated 7 tons of food to Dégagé Ministries, Feeding America West Michigan, Hand2Hand, and Exodus Place.
Four Winds Casinos Shares 7,450 Pounds of Food Across Michigan and Indiana
Meanwhile, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians has donated 7,450 pounds of perishable foods from its Four Winds Casino locations in Michigan and Indiana. The food will be distributed throughout Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana by Feeding America and Cultivate.
“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,” said Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Chairman of the Pokagon Band.
Angel of the Winds Feeds its Team Members and Area Food Banks
The Stillaguamish Tribe has donated food from its Angel of the Winds Casino Resort in Arlington, Washington, to team members, plus about 1,800 pounds each to the Arlington Community Food Bank and the Stanwood Camano Food Bank, according to CDC Newswire.
“The donation is our latest effort to further care for the well-being of our team and make a positive impact on our local community in a time of uncertainty,” states a Facebook post about the donation.
“We are very grateful to be a part of this community, and we are all going to get through this together,” Angel of the Winds Casino Resort General Manager Travis O’Neil told CDC. “With these food donations, we hope that we are able to help those in need at this time.”
Quil Ceda Creek Casino Gives ‘An Abundance of Food’ to Those in Need
Quil Ceda Creek Casino has donated close to 2,700 pounds of food ordered for its restaurants to the Marysville Food Bank in Washington State.
“The Tulalip Tribes knows that all members of our community and our neighboring communities are impacted during this difficult time. With our restaurants closed we have an abundance of food that we would love to share with those in need,” Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin told The Marysville Globe.
Gila River Gaming Enterprises Donates $60K of Perishable Food
Gila River Gaming Enterprises, Inc. has donated $60,000 worth of perishable food items to members of the Gila River Indian Community after closing its Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva casinos.
“I am so proud of our team members for providing help to our community during this difficult time,” Kenneth Manuel, CEO of Gila River Hotels & Casinos, said in a press release. “It has been an honor to watch everyone come together, support one another and most importantly, serve those in need.”
Gila River Gaming Enterprises announced its complete closure in mid-March. The Tribal enterprise was the first Phoenix-metro-based hotel and casino to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ute Mountain Casino Hotel Transitions to Serve as a Warehouse, Delivers Food to Children
While closed to the public, Ute Mountain Casino Hotel in Towaoc, Colorado, has transitioned some of its space into bulk warehouses to house groceries, toiletries and other essential items needed by the Tribe’s 2,500 members during this time.
Aside from providing essential goods, Ute Mountain Casino Hotel workers have been delivering balanced meals to children who are out of school.
“We’re so proud of our loyal employees,” General Manager Rick Scheer said. “Knowing we’re fighting an invisible enemy, our men and women come in each day with a positive attitude working for the common good.”