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Las Vegas Food Bank Demand Increased 30 Percent


Pre-pandemic, the Three Square food bank in Las Vegas distributed roughly 1 million pounds of food per week. Now, that number has increased to 1.3 million pounds of food. 

That's according to Chief Operating Officer Larry Scott, who also said lines at the organization's 21 distribution sites can sometimes grow to up to six miles. 

And those lines show just how widespread the impact has been, he said.

"If you were to just drive past that line, you would absolutely see that the cars are representative of a lot of different economic classes," Scott said, "It has absolutely been impactful across economic scales.”

Despite the demand, Scott said "rarely" has anyone not been able to get the food they need.

According to Feeding America, food banks everywhere are facing a 40 percent increase in demand. 

Scott said that while the amount of food being donated has not gone down, demand has spiked and volunteers are harder to come by. 

In fact, the agency has stopped distributing food to 170 partners because those organizations had so many volunteers quit that they couldn't be staffed properly. 

Despite those concerns, Scott is not worried about getting enough food to the people who need it or running out of funding.

“The community has been extremely generous," he said, "I have every faith in the world that even if the food-insecure population grows significantly that the community will step up and fund it accordingly.”

His bigger concern is how to organize some of the food packaging the agency does while still maintaining social distancing guidelines. Scott believes Three Square "will always be creative" in how it fulfills its mission.

The food bank gets food from federal commodities and wholesalers like Walmart and Kraft. It also purchases food and rescues food from grocery stores.

Through MGM Resorts, it did get thousands of pounds of food that was prepared for banquets and conventions but went unused. Scott said it wasn't a large percentage of its food distribution but it was high-quality food, which will be missed.

Larry Scott, COO, Three Square

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.