The Malhotra Family Foundation dished out a healthy serving of generosity to the Ottawa Food Bank on Friday as a way of helping the non-profit organization deal with our city’s current food insecurity crisis caused by the soaring cost of living.
A total of $125,000 was raised at the 10th annual SHARE Party, which, after being kept on ice during COVID, returned to the Andaz hotel in the ByWard Market. It’s owned by one of Ottawa’s top developers, the Malhotra family of Claridge Homes.
The evening saw some 250 partygoers catch up with friends, colleagues and business partners over cocktails and canapés.
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“We missed you guys,” Malhotra Family Foundation co-founder Louise Malhotra told the room as she and her husband Shawn Malhotra, chief operating officer of Claridge Homes and the family foundation’s co-founder, thanked guests for their support and attendance that night.
Joining them were Shawn’s brother, Claridge Homes chief financial officer Neil Malhotra, and his wife, Ainsley, and family patriarch Bill Malhotra, CEO and founder of Claridge Homes. Neil is also co-chair of the new task force aimed at creating a long-term plan to revitalize the downtown, which just hasn’t been the same since COVID.
The family’s annual SHARE Parties have cumulatively raised more than $2 million for local charities since 2011. That doesn’t include money from their charity golf tournaments, which saw the Ottawa Food Bank also benefit back in 2017.
“This means so much to us,” Ottawa Food Bank president and CEO Rachael Wilson told OBJ.social at the SHARE Party, which she attended with the organization’s director of communications and development, Tricia Johnson. “We’re seeing unprecedented numbers and it’s been really challenging, so donations like this will really help us support people in the community.”
The Malhotra Family Foundation deliberately chose to support the food bank this year, recognizing the record level of demand it’s been facing. It’s practically impossible to go grocery shopping without noticing the eye-popping price increases on such staples as eggs, milk and bread.
Before COVID, the Ottawa Food Bank was serving about 39,000 people every month. It’s now helping 52,000 per monthly, said Wilson.
“Everyone is seeing it on their grocery bill,” she noted. “You can’t cut back on rent, you can’t cut back on your utility bills, but you can go without a meal. We often hear about parents who go without food so that their kids can have enough.”
Louise said the foundation was particularly proud to be able to help the Ottawa Food Bank this year, knowing that the organization is doing “incredibly important” work to help feed hungry individuals and families. The food bank also supports a network of 112 agencies across the city.
“It’s a challenge that’s so huge, and it really requires a full community to come together to find a solution,” the mother of four told the room. “And I feel that the Ottawa Food Bank is so good at what it does.”
The food bank not only works with local farmers, grocery retailers, suppliers and other partners to get fresh and nutritious produce, it also grows produce on its own eight-acre farm.
“What I find so incredible about their organization is their ability to tap into what needs to happen to allow for families to have access to healthy food, because everybody deserves that,” said Louise.
The SHARE Party consistently draws strong support from the various partners with whom the Malhotra family does business.
“Literally, it was one email on a Friday afternoon and by Tuesday we were sold out (of sponsorships),” said Shawn.
Spotted in the crowd was Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next Monday in Toronto.
“It’s humbling and it’s truly an honour of a lifetime,” he told OBJ.social.
Also seen were residential developers Michelle Taggart, on behalf of the Taggart Parkes Family Foundation, and Angela Singhal. Her family’s business, Richcraft Homes, will be among the recipients honoured at an awards dinner being hosted by the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals on Thursday.
Others from the business community included Ron Tomlinson, CEO of Tomlinson Group of Companies; Jeff Cavanagh, president of Thomas Cavanagh Construction; Andrew Shelp, partner at professional land surveyors Annis O’Sullivan Vollebekk; and lawyer Martin St-Onge, head of the real estate group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall (he was one of the many lawyers who used to perform in the rock concert benefits for the food bank).
Come January, the Ottawa Food Bank is moving to a 43,000-square-foot warehouse at 2001 Bantree St. It’s about twice the size of its current location. The new space will have enough room and equipment to store three times as much fresh food, said Wilson. The organization has been fundraising, through its Moving to a Healthier Future campaign, in preparation of the opening of its new space.