TEMECULA (CNS) – Three nonprofits that provide food to the indigent and others in need received $100,000 in perishable goods from the Pechanga Resort Casino that would have otherwise gone to waste because of the venue’s shutdown over novel coronavirus concerns, Pechanga tribal officials said on Thursday.
“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 Jared Munoa, president of the Pechanga Development Corp. “It’s a lot of food. 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.”
The southwest Riverside County charities that received the donations are Project TOUCH, the Temecula-based Community Mission of Hope and Murrieta Pantry.
“Honestly, I feel blessed, blessed that Pechanga’s offering this for Project TOUCH,” single mom Juliann Gonzalez said. “I know I’m going to be first-hand receiving, you know, and 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.
“I am worried about that, because I have three kids always needing something,” she said. “And my mother, she’s elderly, so I have to take extra care of her, and it’s just me taking care of everybody.”
Pechanga shut down operations last weekend in the wake of healthcare directives from the county Department of Public Health placing restrictions on large gatherings. The orders were then revised to restrict groups to less than 10 to reduce COVID-19 exposure risks, but by that time, Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro had already suspended operations, with plans for a limited re-opening at the end of the month.
The amount of food and other perishables stocked on the resort’s shelves included 461 gallons of milk, numerous 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery sticks, as well as pallets of fresh strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupes and honeydew melons.
The cache had been ordered for 20 bars, restaurants and banquet kitchens located at the resort, officials said, adding that the items were given to the three nonprofits on Wednesday.
According to the Community Mission of Hope, it meets the nutritional needs of roughly 5,000 families annually.
Project TOUCH’s director, Anne Unmacht, said her team considered halting food service to clients at the organization’s emergency women’s shelter, but the “donation from Pechanga will allow us to continue offering those services.”
“We are so grateful,” she said.