MGM Springfield, closed down because of the pandemic, has donated to emergency food pantries large quantities of perishables from the casino’s restaurants.
Trays of bread, bags of milk, blocks of cheese, and boxes of ready-to-heat fresh soups and stews were carried off the back of a refrigerated truck Tuesday morning and through the doors of Open Pantry – the emergency food service in the North End of Springfield.
It was part of a donation of roughly 12,000 pounds of perishable food from the temporarily closed casino that was made to pantries, a homeless shelter, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
When the resort complex in Springfield closed last weekend they had enough fresh food left over for about 10,000 meals, so they decided to give it away, said MGM Springfield spokesman Saverio Mancini.
" We recognize there is a need and with the property closed at this point, lets help the community as we can," said Mancini.
The MGM donation comes at a very opportune time, according to Annie Rennix, the director of services at Open Pantry.
"Due to the coronavirus, we suspended all donations from individuals and church food drives," explained Rennix. "We rely a lot on that and so as a result we're low on food."
Typically, 500-600 families a week are helped at Open Pantry, according to Rennix, who expects demand to increase as more-and-more of the economy and society shut down because of the pandemic.
" The need is great," said Rennix. "Having this donation from MGM is amazing."
Precautions are being taken inside the food pantry. A sign on the front door states no more than 14 people at a time are permitted inside, the staff is wearing gloves and face masks, and there are frequent cleanings.
Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez, who helped unload the truck, said MGM reached out to him to find out which agencies would benefit most from the food donation.
"MGM steped up to the plate and is making sure this food goes in the right direction." said Gomez.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted last Saturday to close the state’s three casinos for at least two weeks. The shutdown will likely last longer as Governor Charlie Baker has since directed restaurants and bars to end on-site consumption until April 6th.
MGM said it will continue to pay its full-time employees. In its most recent employment report to state regulators, MGM said it had about 1,500 full-time employees as of December 31, 2019 and about 500 part-time workers.