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Staples center donates 7,000 pounds of food, Penguins, Canucks join in

During pause in NHL season, teams are preparing, sending food to needy

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

The Staples Center staff found a way to turn week's worth of bad news into something positive.

The hospitality and retail strategy team from the home of the Los Angeles Kings, Lakers and Clippers donated 7,000 pounds of food that would've gone to waste during the NBA and NHL season pauses and donated them to area homeless shelters Friday.

Tweet from @STAPLESCenter: This afternoon STAPLES Center donated 7,000 pounds of food that would have been wasted due to the recent suspension of events at the arena.�� Donations were made to both The Midnight Mission and Los Angeles Mission Men���s Center both located in downtown Los Angeles.

The Staples Center had stocked up on food for a weekend of big sporting events, but after the NBA season was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic Wednesday and the the NHL announced it would pause its regular season on Thursday, the building had no other events scheduled.

"We were getting ready to go into a weekend of about a dozen games, and we had the Kings vs. [the Ottawa] Senators game here Wednesday, and the attendance was lower than usual," said Payman Khania, the Staples Center vice president of hospitality and retail strategy. "We were going into the prep and production for the weekend, and business stopped with the suspension."

The arena typically donates surplus food to the Los Angeles Midnight Mission, which according to its website offers a bridge to self-sufficiency for people experiencing homelessness through recovery services. The donated food accounted for 15,000 meals, but when Khania called them to set up delivery, Midnight Mission said it couldn't handle the donation and suggested Los Angeles Men's Mission and Los Angeles Mission, which donate 2,000 and 1,500 meals per day respectively.

"We turned around, inventoried and put that together," Khania said. "We pulled trucks and spent the morning organizing and loaded them up and got them to the locations."

The shelter residents received some of the arena's finest foods, including meats, fish, salads, vegan items and sandwiches designed to feed premium-seating guests and suite dwellers. The shelters are turning the foods into prepackaged meals and were ecstatic about receiving the food.

"We of course are very grateful for the donation we received," said Robert Medina, communications coordinator for L.A. Midnight Mission. 

Khania said that almost none of the food went to waste, and the donation gave hope during a time fraught with uncertainty.

"The sense was overwhelmingly positive," Khania said. "Between the COVID-19 outbreak and being in L.A. - it's cold and raining, which we're not really used to - it felt like we created sense of comfort in a time where we could all use a little bit more of that."

On Monday, the Vancouver Canucks followed suit, sending 2,000 pounds of food to places that will get them to those in need like the Salvation Army, Greater Vancouver Food Bank and more.

"With strong support from the Aquilini family, and our partners at Toptable Group, we know this donation will help some of the most vulnerable groups in our community," Canucks chief operating officer Trent Carroll said in a statement.

The Pittsburgh Penguins posted on Instagram that they have worked with vendor Aramark to send thier unused food to 412 Food Rescue.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild each announced they would donate unused food to local charities Tuesday. Carolina will send a "large donation" to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based nonprofit organization providing food to families affected by the pandemic.

The Wild sent more than 2,400 pounds of food from XCel Energy Center to Catholic Charities, Dorothy Day Place and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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