The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a grant of $2 million to fund Three Square, a unique collaborative effort with the Las Vegas community to enhance production and delivery of meals to those who lack sufficient food in the Las Vegas area. Formed in late 2006 after a Hilton Foundation-funded study showed a growing need to address hunger in Southern Nevada, Three Square is embarking on an innovative program designed to transform food production, collection and delivery.
The grant will fund the planning that will lead to the construction of a central food production facility that will produce nutritious meals to be distributed through Southern Nevada food service organizations. As a first step in the program and to address immediate needs, Three Square will produce 5,000 meals per week in 2007.
“Three Square is the collective vision of many in our community who have come together to support this innovative strategy to provide food for those less fortunate in our area,” said Three Square board of trustee president, Punam Mathur, senior vice president, MGM/Mirage. “This collaboration involves the five major gaming companies, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV), local governmental agencies, businesses and non-profit agencies.”
Three Square began as the vision of Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board member Eric Hilton, a Las Vegas resident. “Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing and most prosperous cities in the country and it is shocking to find that so many of my fellow citizens are going hungry, especially children and seniors,” said Hilton.
To understand the enormity of the need, the Hilton Foundation’s study revealed that, although nearly 150 non-profit agencies in Southern Nevada are providing wholesome meals for people who lack adequate nutritious food, they are not able to keep up with the demand, and that only 43 percent are receiving a daily meal. The research further indicated that the need will double in seven years.
“Throughout the past few years, Eric Hilton’s concern about the hungry in his community has evolved into a broad-based effort,” said Steven M. Hilton, CEO of the Hilton Foundation. “We are pleased to support this needed program that has drawn such enthusiastic community-wide support.”
Julie Murray, CEO of Three Square, is spearheading the program and has brought on board as an advisor General Mike Mulqueen, recently retired chief operating officer of the standard-setting Greater Chicago Food Depository, a highly successful food facility.
A research team consisting of leading academicians from UNLV, the Clark County Health District, and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension will assist in meal planning, evaluation of the menu and delivery systems and development of benchmarks for the central food facility.