Area food pantries reap reward from closed casinos

Area food pantries reap reward from closed casinos

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Making lemonade out of lemons, along with potatoes, carrots and other fresh foods.

That is what the Beau Rivage and Palace Casino did Wednesday when they donated more than 25,000 pounds of fresh food to food pantries across the Coast.

That will provide more than 16,000 meals to South Mississippi families who may have suddenly found themselves in need because of the coronavirus.

After being ordered to close to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the casinos donated their perishable food to area food banks.

“It is perishable, but it’s food,” said Martha Allen, executive director of Extra Table that helped coordinate the distribution of the food at the Beau. “So we’re getting it to pantries that can use and can get it out the doors today. We were talking to someone earlier and their numbers just toward the end of last week had tripled, so I don’t think we’re going to have a problem with food sitting around pantries right now.”

Food banks expect to see a growing demand with the economic changes happening in the community.

“Tomorrow, we’re probably expecting a record crowd due to the fact that everything is shutting down around here," said Melvin Lonberger, kitchen manager at Seashore Mission in Biloxi. "And we don’t just serve the homeless, we have people that are down on their luck in the local community that comes by and participates in our food program.”

Palace Casino employees Joseph Sloan, from left, Jessica Smith, Amber Alley, Matthew MacFadden and Chef Dean Kronauer with pallets of fruit and vegetables to being donated to local food banks.
Palace Casino employees Joseph Sloan, from left, Jessica Smith, Amber Alley, Matthew MacFadden and Chef Dean Kronauer with pallets of fruit and vegetables to being donated to local food banks. (Source: Palace Casino)

At least 18 different organizations that distribute food to the needy have received thousands of pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods.

Allen said any organization that has questions or needs access to food can call Extra Table.

“We’re willing to try to figure out how to get more food on their shelves right now. Now More Than Ever, that’s our hashtag," she said. “That’s going to be our campaign #NowMoreThanEver. Now more than ever our Coastal families need food, Now more than ever our Coastal families need good food, and the mission of Extra Table is to only provide healthy food, and this food will go a long way to keeping someone from being hungry.”

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