TEMECULA, CALIF.—Dozens of giant 25-pound bags of onions, carrots and celery. Pallets of fresh ripe strawberries and blackberries. Thousands of pounds of cantaloupes and honeydew melons. Ten thousand dollars in milk (461 gallons) and dairy products alone. All of this and a lot more was sent last week by Pechanga to three charities in Riverside County that regularly support disadvantaged and homeless people in the region. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, these groups have been even harder hit.
Pechanga Resort Casino’s temporary closure announced on Saturday, March 14 shut down the casino, hotel, spa, golf course, as well as the resort’s 20 bars and restaurants and banquet kitchens for the health and safety of its Team Members, Tribal Members and guests. After doors closed to the public Monday, March 16 at 12 p.m., food and beverage staff stored food stuffs with long shelf lives that could be used once the resort/casino reopens. However, they were still left with half a dozen, very large walk-in refrigerators filled with produce and dairy. Project T.O.U.C.H. and the Community Mission of Hope, both based in Temecula, and the Murrieta Pantry came to Pechanga Wednesday, escorted by public safety officers, and loaded the vast amounts of food onto their trucks.
“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.”
Single Mother Touched by Gesture
“Honestly, I feel blessed. Blessed that Pechanga’s offering this for Project T.O.U.C.H.,” said Juliann Gonzalez, a single mother of three and a client of Project T.O.U.C.H. “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. And my mother, she’s elderly, so I have to take extra care of her, and it’s just me taking care of everybody.”
The Community Mission of Hope provides food services and assistance for more than 5,000 families each year. The organization provides food, hygiene products and resources for families in need throughout Southwest Riverside County. They are currently offering drive-through food assistance for the needy, but recent grocery store product unavailability has severely cut what they can offer as stores often delivered day-old breads and items displayed past their sell-by dates.
“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.”
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.