Open Palm gives Cayman Food Bank big financial boost

Over $95,000 is raised for local charity

The creators of Open Palm (from left, Gabriella Khalil, Elizabeth Chambers and Tami Maines) present the cheque to operations manager of the Cayman Food Bank, Phillip Hyre. - Photo: Vicki Wheaton

Just like so many other local charities, the Cayman Food Bank has been working to keep up with the unprecedented demand on its volunteers and stock of supplies.

So, when the Open Palm trio comprised of entrepreneur Elizabeth Chambers; philanthropist Tami Maines; and founder/creative director of Palm Heights Hotel, Gabriella Khalil, offered to step up and raise funds for the food bank, its operations manager Phillip Hyre jumped at the chance to accept.

On 20 June, the three ladies hosted the virtual ‘Open Palm x Torch’d’ event with Isaac Boots on the beach at Palm Heights. It was designed to raise money for US-based charities The Conscious Kid and No Kid Hungry, along with the locally-based Cayman Food Bank.

By the end of the event, $50,000 had already been raised for the food bank, which thrilled everyone involved; but that was not the end of the story.

Last Friday, the members of Open Palm, sponsors, and volunteers gathered at the food bank’s warehouse on Sleepy Hollow Drive for the presentation of a cheque that was generous in both proportions and amount. The coffers had swelled considerably since the previous week to the extraordinary total of $95,654.16.

Along with the money, boxloads of food items donated by members of the community and collected by Open Palm were presented to the food bank at the same time.

Hyre was very grateful for the donations, as with costs having risen to $8,000 per week in the past three months, the food bank was due to run out of money by mid-July without assistance.

“We have seen 100% increase in the demand for food in the time of coronavirus,” Hyre revealed. “The funds collected [alone] can help sustain the operation for at least four months.”

Phillip Hyre presents one of the bags created from repurposed materials – a gift to anyone who makes a substantial donation to the food bank.

Hyre said that there are approximately 30 active volunteers assisting his organisation at the moment. They do everything from sorting the food, to packing and delivering grocery items and hot meals to all the districts throughout the Cayman Islands.

According to Hyre, he was first made aware of the Open Palm initiative about four weeks ago, when Maines approached him via phone and email.

No doubt he was hopeful that their efforts would bear fruit, but admitted that the amount of money and food they collected was a welcome surprise.

“They did an excellent job,” Hyre said. “The community responded well and we thank everyone for their generosity and all the hard work that went into making this event very successful.”

The Cayman Food Bank has been around since Dec. 2017, but food distribution to the community began in Feb. 2018.

A large number of food items were collected and donated at the same time as the cheque presentation.

“We would like people to know that the Cayman Food Bank is here for everyone that is genuinely in need,” said Hyre. “We want to stamp out childhood hunger; no child should ever go to bed hungry.  We have a zero tolerance for hunger.”

Sponsors of the ‘Open Palm x Torch’d’ event and food drive included the Armand Hammer Foundation, The Ritz-Carlton Residences owners, and the Palm Heights Hotel.

For more information about the food bank, visit


Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now