Garry Malhotra’s free meals continue, now into the thousands every day

James Coleman 30 August 2021 38
Women stirring a large pot of food

With thousands now receiving meals every day, you need a big pot. Photo: Garry Malhotra.

It started with a simple post to Facebook.

“Lockdown is a very stressful time for all and we would like to ease a little of your stress by offering free meals. Please contact us, let us know how many people and your address and we will deliver to your doorstep.”

Now Garry Malhotra and his family have morphed into a fully-fledged business, with volunteers, a dedicated Facebook page, and even an online order form. But the core purpose remains the same.

Thousands of meals are being distributed around the ACT every day to those needing support during lockdown. Not only does this include individual doorsteps, but also the essential staff at COVID-19 testing centres and other medical facilities.

“It’s a big task,” Garry says modestly.

There are currently 10 to 15 people in the kitchen from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm every day.

“Six of us are extended family, three are close friends, and because I’m the Chief Operating Officer for a food preparation training facility in Narrabundah, two of the other trainers are qualified chefs and are helping out. Then there are six people from the community who come in every day.”

Food preparation

Extended family and volunteers are working in the kitchen from 6:00 am every day. Photo: Garry Malhotra.

Garry posts each day’s menu to the new Garry Malhotra – Ken Behrens Helping Hands Facebook page and people respond by submitting their address to a Google form.

The menu is impressive. The options on Sunday consisted of beef bolognaise with egg pasta, grilled chicken with rice and pepper sauce, and potato chickpeas curry with rice.

Initially, Garry and his family were going it alone, but such was the response to their outpouring of time and money that offers of help have quickly sprung up from the local community.

Volunteers have rallied to the kitchen and their cars to deliver the meals to addresses throughout the ACT and Queanbeyan.


READ ALSO: Malhotra family dishes up free meals on wheels for locals in need


Garry is not comfortable taking cash donations as he’s not a registered charitable organisation; instead, he publishes a list of food items needed each week. People are encouraged to drop these off at 61 Jerrabomberra Avenue, Narrabundah, at the AIM Institute of Health & Sciences, between 9:00 and 11:00 am.

Before this, he was delving into his own personal savings.

Calvary Emergency Department staff

The team at Calvary Emergency Department receiving their Malhotra meals. Photo: Eleine Joy Cabutaje.

The idea behind the mammoth effort came to him in the week leading up to the ACT lockdown while in hospital for appendix surgery. He has been on antibiotics ever since, and while they might be staving off infection, they are also affecting his sleep.

This is on top of his wife being five months pregnant. They also have a seven-year-old son.

“Yeah, we could definitely do with a break.”

But with stalwart determination, Garry says he will continue.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from this lockdown, it’s that there are many Canberrans who need support. Canberra is my home, and Canberrans are my family. It’s my responsibility to support my family.”

He says there are rumours that people are taking advantage of the free meals without being in true need, but the feedback he is getting from the volunteers is overwhelmingly positive.

“Over 90 per cent of the people are in true need of support, and even the remaining 10 per cent are often in quarantine and unable to go out or cook for themselves.”

There are wide calls on local Canberra Facebook groups to have Garry Malhotra named ‘Ken Behrens of the Year’.


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38 Responses to Garry Malhotra’s free meals continue, now into the thousands every day
Tim Vandartel Tim Vandartel 7:32 pm 01 Sep 21

Good stuff, really nice.

Sandra Paton Sandra Paton 6:54 pm 01 Sep 21

They are the quiet heroes.

PJ Vukikomoala PJ Vukikomoala 5:39 pm 01 Sep 21

I'd love to see an article naming the people who are doing work like this and describing how to support each of them.

Gwen Scarfe Gwen Scarfe 5:12 pm 01 Sep 21

A very big thank you ,too you all .

Fantastic.!!!👍👍😷😷

Pauline Lovitt Pauline Lovitt 4:30 pm 01 Sep 21

A wonderful thing to do Gary and your volunteers. 🙏💗🎶🥂

Margaret Harries Margaret Harries 4:16 pm 01 Sep 21

He and his team deserve to be be the Canberrans of year

Margaret Harries Margaret Harries 4:16 pm 01 Sep 21

A true legend

Margaret Harries Margaret Harries 4:15 pm 01 Sep 21

The most generous Canberran ever

Sarah Morris Sarah Morris 11:14 am 01 Sep 21

Absolute legends- all that are involved 💕

Megan Munro Megan Munro 11:03 am 01 Sep 21

Jodie McLeod and Kaylene McLeod have also been organising and delivering hundreds of free meals each day.

施海颖 施海颖 10:43 am 01 Sep 21

Good you guys!! So beautiful!

Rachel Lisa Rachel Lisa 10:22 am 01 Sep 21

The world needs more people like these generous people. True Aussie heroes 😊😇

Bat Mate Canberra Bat Mate Canberra 8:59 am 01 Sep 21

God bless him and the volunteers ever grateful for their efforts🙏🏼🙏🏼

Elizabeth N Bob Doepel Elizabeth N Bob Doepel 8:37 am 01 Sep 21

Awesomeness at its most generous level. Thankyou. 💕💖

Kathryn Mitchell Kathryn Mitchell 8:04 am 01 Sep 21

Definitely Ken Behren of the Year! ❤️❤️

Roseanne Howes Roseanne Howes 7:43 am 01 Sep 21

#SLABSFORHEROES and the SLABBERS, Mat from Unique Meats, Scott Reid from Scottos Food Logistics Graeme Shaw from Shaw's Projects and many others are proud to have provided over 500kgs of meat, chicken, pasta and rice to help Garry and those in need. WE GOT THIS.

Rhonda Peterson Rhonda Peterson 7:41 am 01 Sep 21

inspirational 🥰

Bentley The Cat Bentley The Cat 6:01 am 01 Sep 21

Would you like 🍻 hooman Garry?

Greg Douglas Greg Douglas 3:29 am 01 Sep 21

Fantastic people with such huge hearts

Anthony Peterson Anthony Peterson 2:42 am 01 Sep 21

Go Gary!

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