MGM Resorts announces program to donate surplus food

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Carlos Guia, the Aria's executive chef of conventions and banquets, helped run a pilot program that donated more than 100,000 pounds of excess food to Three Square.
Carlos Guia, the Aria's executive chef of conventions and banquets, helped run a pilot program that donated more than 100,000 pounds of excess food to Three Square.

Every year, MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas serve thousands of pounds of food to banquet attendees. And every year, thousands of pounds of surplus food goes unserved  extra trays of pasta and chicken that guests simply don't need. 

Last week, MGM Resorts International announced a new program to put that extra food to use feeding the hungry in Las Vegas. Through a partnership with Three Square Food Bank, MGM properties including the Aria, the Bellagio and the Mandalay Bay will now collect hot banquet food that never made it to the buffet and donate it to Three Square. Three Square will blast chill the meals and store them until they're needed to feed some of the 279,000 people who struggle with food insecurity in Southern Nevada. 

MGM has already seen the power of putting excess food to use. In 2016, the Aria started a pilot program to collect and preserve the resort's excess banquet dishes. Working with food-safety experts, the resort's banquet chefs led by Carlos Guia, executive chef of conventions and banquets, created protocols for recovering extra dishes that would normally go to waste. Over the course of a year, the pilot program recovered and donated more than 100,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of 80,000 meals. 

"We are often asked what Las Vegas hotels do with their leftover food," said Brian Burton, president and CEO of Three Square Food Bank, in a press release. "Today, we have a consistent, scalable answer to that question, one that will feed more food-insecure people in Southern Nevada."

According to Three Square, 13.4% of Clark County residents are food insecure, meaning they don't have consistent access to sufficient healthy food. Three Square works to fill that gap through food banking of nonperishables, recovery of unused food and distributing ready-to-eat meals. In 2017, the organization delivered more than 36 million meals in Southern Nevada. 

A two-year, $768,000 grant from MGM Resorts will help Three Square expand the Aria program to other MGM properties with major convention facilities like the MGM Grand and the Mandalay Bay, and in the next few months, the company will make its procedures available to others in the hospitality industry in the hopes that other resorts and hotels will follow suit. 

Now, when meetings planners worry over whether they've ordered too much lasagna or too many roasted veggies, at least they can know the surplus isn't going to go to waste.

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