Casinos become food banks as Las Vegas workers wait out lockdown

by Andrew MARSZAL

Michelle Manning pulled up at the Las Vegas casino around 2:30 am feeling confident.

She and her sister were not planning to roll dice or play poker at the Palace Station, which like every gambling establishment in the desert city is shut due to coronavirus.

Instead they arrived early enough to beat the six-mile (10-kilometer) line of cars that, each week, snakes around and out the sprawling parking lot, as people wait for the makeshift food bank to open.

“We’re able to have fruit, vegetables, meat, milk… and with the cash that I have available, I can pay my power bills,” said Manning, who has an infant granddaughter and 92-year-old father waiting at home.

“And this is safer than going to the grocery store.”

A transport dispatcher whose children were laid off from jobs at the city’s world-famous casinos, Manning was third in line of an anticipated 1,000 vehicles at the drive-through operation on Thursday.

Each waited for crates of Wisconsin cheese, Washington state apples, chicken strips, potatoes and iced tea to be loaded into their open trunks.

The site is one of 20 Las Vegas hubs run by Three Square, which sources food from federal government programs, as well as local donors and vendors.

The non-profit received a glut of discarded banquet food from Las Vegas casinos in March when they were suddenly ordered to shut their doors due to coronavirus.

“They had sitting on their shelves, in their coolers and freezers, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds of perishable food that we rescued over a matter of three or four days,” said COO Larry Scott.

But now that brief bonanza of meats and other premium foodstuffs has “completely stopped.” (AFP)