‘It helped out so much.’ Food drive held for laid-off Atlantic City casino workers

While casinos in Atlantic City are opening up to full capacity, many who used to work at the casinos are still unemployed or not back full time, making a need for food assistance still prevalent.
Sim Ahmed and his wife are still unemployed. They are hoping to go back to work at Borgata next month. The family is just one of hundreds who showed up for a food driver at Bader Field – a monthly event set up to serve up to 2,400 families in need.
“It helped out so much. They helped us for Thanksgiving. We got Thanksgiving food. We got our Christmas dinner,” says Bally’s worker Jaymi Gilmore Debraux.
Some workers have returned now that the casinos and hotels have reopened. But for Darrel Stark and his colleagues who deal with entertainment and production, work is still uncertain.
“Unfortunately we recognize that we’re probably going to be one of the last groups of employees that are returning to work because with the capacity levels for entertainment venues at this time being so low, it’s going to be a while for large touring shows and production shows to return to Atlantic City,” Stark says.
Many of the casino workers are only back to work part time, so they say that these food drives help them fill in the gaps, giving them one less bill to worry about.
“A lot of people, it really messed them up. So they’re a little behind, such as myself,” says Gilmore Debraux.
The food drive was organized by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
“There’s 12 months of economic hardships. Many families went without having any income and the one thing that they did have was bill accumulating every month - month after month,” says Food Bank CEO Carlos Rodriguez. “It’s going to take a while for everybody to get back on their feet.”
The two groups are currently working on a plan together to provide even more assistance to these families in the coming future.