Giving Back Through “Our Giving Table:” Nitin Khanna Helps Local Nonprofits Battle Childhood Hunger in Oregon

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Aug 20, 2019 · 4 min read

Giving Back Through “Our Giving Table:” Nitin Khanna Helps Local Nonprofits Battle Childhood Hunger in Oregon

When the founder of Our Giving Table, Lydia Massaad, initially reached out to Nitin Khanna for a 10-minute meeting in the executive’s office, she knew there were no guarantees. “I know you’re incredibly busy” describes the tone of a message which would come to help shape her nonprofit’s expansion. Having met Khanna on just a few casual occasions, some would consider it a leap to reach out to then-CEO of one of the largest cannabis companies in the world. However, Massaad remembered the generous and respectful gentleman from her restaurant in Portland and got straight to the point: “Would you think of sponsoring OGT?”

Khanna and his wife, Laura Khanna, were introduced to Massaad through mutual friends. Between that introduction and Massaad’s hopeful meeting, the couple had visited Massaad’s restaurant, Al Amir in downtown Portland, two or three times. To her delight, Khanna’s response was immediately positive, if slightly constrained. “I can’t sit on the board,” Khanna conceded, “but I’ll advise; I’ll do whatever you need.” Because his own schedule was so busy, he asked his wife, Laura Khanna, if she would be able to give her support. Shortly after, Massaad received a direct response from Nitin Khanna: “Laura is on-board. What other support do you need?”

Our Giving Table

Massaad’s modus operandi while running the family-owned Al Amir restaurant was always one of generosity. However, one Lebanese cuisine and events venue wasn’t enough to satisfy Massaad’s charitable spirit. She was quickly drawn to nonprofit work across Portland, and as she began to learn more about the issues present in her own city, a strong desire to do more took hold.

With a natural affinity for food and feeding others, Massaad was horrified to learn of the widespread hunger present in Oregon. In Oregon alone, over 200,000 children go to bed hungry, without knowing when their next meal will come. At this age, the lack of nourishment can cause more than debilitating hunger pains. Research has shown that malnourishment in childhood can be problematic for mental and physical development, as well as increasing the likelihood of falling ill.

Massaad’s initial efforts were already helping to “feed kids in her backyard” but by the time she reached out to Nitin Khanna, Massaad was on a mission to help thousands of children. Hunger was the enemy that Our Giving Table would set its sights on defeating; but to do so, Massaad needed broader support if she was going to have the impact that she intended. Largely due to the support of Nitin Khanna and local supplies, Our Giving Table already prepares and delivers over 1,000 meals each week. These meals are directed locally to high-priority elementary schools, and kids in foster care, with Massaad herself delivering a vast majority of the meals.

All Kids Have Talent

Nitin and Laura Khanna have never hesitated to donate time and money to the cause, but the “All Kids Have Talent” event was a standout occasion for all involved. Held in March of this year, the show was designed as a “FUN-raiser,” showcasing the talents of youths in the area. All funds from the event went straight toward charitable efforts through Our Giving Table.

On event day, 270 people attended, with Laura Khanna preparing 300 snack bags for the kids and all in attendance. This turnout alone would have gone a long way toward helping the cause, but Nitin Khanna wanted to make sure that the first annual Our Giving Table event was something to write home about. All children who participated in the talent show were given iPads, kindles, and other high-end gifts that they wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to own.

Nitin and Laura Khanna’s Continued Support

From advisor of Oregon-based startups to a constant source of support and advice for Massaad and other local initiatives, Nitin Khanna has been a firm pillar at the heart of Portland’s entrepreneurial scene. Since selling his first company, Saber Corporation, back in 2007, Khanna’s efforts to support the Portland community have only intensified. Massaad is consistently humbled by the couple’s willingness to help, explaining recently in an interview that “no contribution is beneath them.”

For initiatives like Massaad’s to be heard above the noise of battle, it’s crucial that outside investors are willing to step up and give them a chance. Nitin and Laura Khanna have provided the support necessary in Massaad’s case, and their impact has already been monumental, with further developments in the works. Hopefully, their example will be one for others to follow so that nonprofit projects like Our Giving Table continue to receive the ongoing support and attention that they deserve.

To learn more about Our Giving Table, visit http://www.ourgivingtable.com/

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