Former vice presidential candidate and Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was cozy in her Cadillac Escalade as it wheeled through a segment of Las Vegas few tourists and certainly very few politicians ever see.
As she approached the Las Vegas Salvation Army on 35 West Owens Ave., hard by the railroad tracks and I-15 -- actually, on the other side of the tracks -- she couldn’t help but see the people, families even, camped in tents and whatever shelter they could build on the sidewalks of D Street.
It’s the “D Street Corridor,” where the homeless can find food, shelter, counseling, charity from places like Catholic Charities and sometimes jobs at the Salvation Army. Unlike the glitzy high-rise casinos and hotels a few miles away on the Las Vegas Strip, where there’s star billing nightly, poverty plays here daily and nightly. Homicides are real, not staged.
But on this afternoon, the homeless were being fed Wild Boar Chili Verdi that was prepared by the Salvation Army’s culinary school students under Chef Bill Baker. And it was going to be served to them by volunteers led by Palin, who hosts her “Amazing America” on the Sportsman Channel, and Sporting Chef Scott Leysath, host of the Hunt.Fish.Feed Show. It was a new deal for Palin, but Leysath puts feeds on at shelters for the homeless all across America. As Palin said, “The program has helped provide nutritious, responsibly-harvested meals to more than 25,000 people in more than 40 cities across our amazing country.”
Outside, hundreds of homeless lined up for their one big meal of the day, and on this day it was chili made with wild boar pork that Leysath ordered from Sierra Meat in Reno. Palin was a bit late, so Leysath and the Salvation Army crew and volunteers from the Las Vegas Police Department and Nellis Air Force Base started serving the needy before she arrived from the SHOT Show at the Sands Expo Center.
“It’s really important for them to get here early, eat and then make it to their shelters before dark or they lose their spot there,” Leysath said. “I’ve been doing this for five years now, and I’ve heard some amazing stories about how they got displaced. So many people in this country are two or three catastrophic events away from being homeless. I’ve talked to people who had a home, job, but they had to sell everything and were left with nothing. Many of the people I’ve talked to never dreamed they’d be out of a job or home.”
Never in all the events Leysath put on for the Sportsman Channel did he or anyone associated with the show see anything like the stir surrounding Palin’s appearance at the Las Vegas Salvation Army. She arrived with two bodyguards who looked as though they could be UFC or MMA stars. Upon arrival, she was sped off to a “green” room to get outfitted for the show and then led to the kitchen area to serve food. Local and national TV shows were there to follow her every move.