Sporting Venues Shuttered Over Coronavirus Concerns Donate Tons Of Food To Soup Kitchens, Homeless Shelters

'We realized there wasn’t much that we could do with any of the food, so we decided to figure out how much we could donate,' says a hospitality manager.

the interior of the little caesars arena, without fans
Coreyfein01 / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 Cropped and Resized)

'We realized there wasn’t much that we could do with any of the food, so we decided to figure out how much we could donate,' says a hospitality manager.

Sporting facilities across the country are shuttered, as sports seasons left and right are canceled in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. Left with thousands of pounds of perishable food, some hospitality managers at those facilities are donating to food banks, homeless shelters, and food kitchens, Yahoo Sports reports.

Sports arenas offer concessions, most of which are run by third-party providers. Yet, they also have plenty of food of their own, usually for higher-paying customers who occupy luxury boxes. Offerings range from simple fare like finger sandwiches and fresh vegetables with dip to hot wings, fine seafood, and everything in between.

At Los Angeles’ Staples Center, there was, at one time, several thousand pounds of it. The L.A. arena had prepared for a busy 17-day stretch, between March 11-28, that was to include multiple Kings games, multiple Lakers games, and a few NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games. Prepping for the anticipated demand, the facility’s hospitality department stocked up on its usual catering supplies.

Then, within the span of a few days, all sporting events scheduled for the arena, and indeed everywhere else in the country, were canceled or postponed due to coronavirus.

a plate of food
  Didgeman / Pixabay

Staples Center employees were sent into the kitchens to freeze, pickle, or otherwise preserve whatever they could. However, that still left approximately 7,000 pounds of perishable food: vegetables, artisanal breads, braised chicken, and quite a few other items.

Payman Khania, Staples Center’s vice president of hospitality and retail strategy, said that the best option on the table, so to speak, was to donate it.

“We realized there wasn’t much that we could do with any of the food, so we decided to figure out how much we could donate,” Khania said.

So generous was the surprise donation to the Midnight Mission homeless shelter that the facility, to which Staples Center normally donates excess food (albeit much less of it), that the shelter couldn’t handle it all. Much of it was sent to another L.A. homeless shelter.

It’s one of the few good things to come from the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s being repeated at sports venues outside of the City of Angels.

In New York, Barclay’s Center donated five tons of food to City Harvest, New York’s largest food rescue organization, which is enough to feed 10,000 people for one day. In San Francisco, the Chase Center donated leftover food to a city food bank. Similar donations have taken place in Portland, Sacramento, and other places.

In L.A., Midnight Mission executive chef Javier Sanchez said that the Staples Center donation was the biggest single-day donation he’d ever received.

“It was emotional looking at all the stuff coming out and knowing that there are people out there that want to help out and are willing to contribute to our cause,” he said, noting that the freshness of the ingredients and the artisanal preparation was something he wasn’t used to seeing.