Watching local television one evening, Eric Hilton, son of the late Conrad N. Hilton – founder of the Hilton hotel dynasty, was alarmed to see that a non-profit organization feeding Southern Nevadans in need had to close its doors for lack of funding. They were no longer able to prepare the 300,000 annual meals upon which so many people depended on. The next morning he called the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and said, “I want to end hunger in Las Vegas.” With that phone call, Three Square was born.
The Hilton Foundation committed $250,000 from 2004 to 2006 to assess the community’s ability to feed the hungry. The results of the extensive research reinforced Hilton’s belief that too many Southern Nevadan’s were without food. Approximately 150 non-profit agencies serving 4 million meals per year were meeting less than half the demand. The survey also indicated that the real faces of hunger included children, working adults and the elderly. An organized and efficient program was needed to lift the food supply burden from non-profit groups and allow them to focus on their missions. As a result, the Hilton Foundation made a $2 million matching grant for the start-up phase of a new groundbreaking organization named Three Square. Its goal is to provide the beneficiaries of existing non-profit agencies with three square meals every day to eradicate hunger in Southern Nevada.
Community leader Julie Murray was named CEO and worked with Hilton to recruit key resort and business industry leaders to become partners in the creation of Three Square. A board of trustees and the culinary team were soon formed. This executive team determined that a central location for food donation and food preparation was necessary and could be done with the backing of both the Hilton Foundation and the resort and business community. So began the vision of building a state-of-the-art food production and distribution center. Once built and in operation, Three Square will work with food vendors to obtain deeply
discounted and donated foods to produce nutritious meals for the hundreds of non-profit agencies feeding the hungry throughout Southern Nevada.
Five local non-profit organizations that feed the hungry were selected to participate in the initial proof-of-concept phase: The Las Vegas Rescue Mission; Salvation Army; Center for Independent Living; Silver Sky assisted living facility; and WestCare addiction recovery agency. In March 2007, Three Square served a total of 3,000 meals per week. The organization will test various methods of food preparation and delivery while working to design and develop the national model facility. Once the proof-of-concept phase is complete, Three Square will have the opportunity to submit a grant request for an additional $6 million from the Hilton Foundation.
The local community is also helping with funding requirements. The Nevada Legislature appropriated $1 million to assist with the capital expenses of Three Square’s new food production facility. While many have already stepped forward with matching grants and donations, more is needed to build the Three Square facility and to fulfill the goal – to serve up to 10 million meals annually. With help from the community, Eric Hilton will get his wish that no one in Las Vegas will go hungry.
For more information,
please contact Julie Murray at
702-644-FOOD or visit the Web site www.threesquare.org.