Las Vegas, NV – The Culinary and Bartenders’ Unions’ affiliate (UNITE HERE’s local in Las Vegas), the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, is proving food assistance for thousands of hospitality workers most affected by casino/hotel closures due to this global crisis.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the Las Vegas hospitality industry incredibly hard. In less than a month, almost all Las Vegas hospitality workers were laid off or furloughed, including more than 98% of Culinary and Bartenders’ Union families.

Workers are facing a severe economic crisis and are struggling to pay for basic needs, especially food. In response to this crisis, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas (CALV) created the Helping Hand program to help meet the high community demand for food assistance. CALV is a non-profit and a labor-management trust fund which has a Board of Trustees made up of Culinary and Bartenders’ Union leaders and industry employers.

The Helping Hand food assistance program provides 2,000 bags of food a day to hospitality workers in need. Each bag contains enough meat, beans, fruits, and vegetables to feed a family of three for 7-10 days. So far, over 30,000 bags of food have been given out to workers for free.

Helping Hand is a safe, drive-through food distribution, where workers picking up food packets don’t get out of their car. All workers at the food assistance site wear personal protective equipment (PPE). There is also a contactless home delivery option for those who don’t have transportation, who are diagnosed with COVID-19, have an underlying medical condition, are under quarantine orders, or are over 65 years or older.