After shutting down Saturday, Pechanga Resort Casino announced Thursday it has given a storehouse of food — about $100,000 worth from its 20 restaurants and bars — to needy and homeless people in the region, a spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, Pechanga began sharing 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery, in addition to pallets of fresh strawberries and blackberries, thousands of pounds of cantaloupes and honeydew melons, more than 460 gallons of milk, as well as dairy products, among many other food items, said Media and Public Relations Director Ciara Green.
The food was given to three Riverside County charities that regularly support the region’s disadvantaged and homeless populations: Project T.O.U.C.H. and the Community Mission of Hope, both Temecula-based, and the Murrieta Pantry.
“We debated whether we would stop taking new clients because of the food issue,” said Anne Unmacht, director of Project T.O.U.C.H. which offers an emergency women’s shelter and transitional housing for homeless individuals and families. “We get between five and 10 new clients each week who need emergency transitional housing and this donation from Pechanga will allow us to continue offering those services. We are so grateful.”
One of the recipients of the generosity was single mother of three and client of Project T.O.U.C.H, Juliann Gonzalez.
“Honestly, I feel blessed … it kind of gives me a lot of weight off my shoulders, especially these next coming weeks, where there’s not going to be really anything at the store,” Gonzalez said. “I am worried about that because I have three kids always needing something.”
Gonzalez said that she also has an elderly mother she cares for.
The Community Mission of Hope provides food services and assistance for more than 5,000 families each year throughout southwest Riverside County. It is currently offering drive-through food assistance for the needy, but recent grocery store product unavailability has severely cut what it can offer.
Jared Munoa, president of the Pechanga Development Corporation, said he was glad the resort could be there for those who need it.
“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 Munoa. “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.