Moti Bali works with other volunteers to deliver hot meals to customers at the Free My City daily service. (Contributed photo)

Demand continues to climb for White Rock free hot meal service

‘People are suffering. No matter if someone is driving a good car, there is no money in the pocket.’

Moti Bali is an easy guy to find.

At noon most days, Bali can be found standing near the corner of Russell Avenue and Johnston Road, handing out free food to vulnerable people on the Peninsula.

And while he wasn’t a driving force behind the city’s and White Rock Rotary’s ‘Feed My City’ program – in fact, he’s not even a Rotarian – he has worked his way to become the informal face of the volunteer-run service.

Retired broadcaster and White Rock Rotary Club member George Garrett contacted Peace Arch News to publicly recognize Bali’s involvement and his contributions to the program.

RELATED: Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Garrett said what Bali offers is more than just a helping hand, but a sense of connection and community for people who may need it the most.

The program, which initially started as a one-day service in early 2020, has grown into a daily program offering about 50 meals each day. Not only has the program benefited local residents, but people from Langley and Cloverdale have been known to make the trip.

Bali, 80, didn’t ask for recognition or the limelight. His reward, he told Peace Arch News, is the opportunity to give back.

“I get a lot of satisfaction,” Bali said. “I feel, at the end of the day when I come home, gosh, I made someone smile. I made someone feel good about themselves.”

And while the age and circumstances of each customer is different, – the oldest customer being 102 years old – Bali said they each share some common ground.

“They feel that someone respects them, helps them, listens to their problems. They do a little bit of socializing when they come here,” Bali said.

“We are all on the same level. People are suffering. No matter if someone is driving a good car, there is no money in the pocket.”

Participation from Semiahmoo Peninsula restaurants, including Red Rose (2381 King George Blvd.), Bamboo (15785 Croydon Dr.), Seriously Good Catering, and White Rock Indian Flavours (15240 Russell Ave.) – who are providing the food at a $5-per-meal cost – has been critical for the program. Peace Portal Alliance Church also provides meals for the service.

The program is funded by donations from the community. Bali said they have enough money to keep the program running until June, but have every intention of raising more funds.

The launch of the program could be viewed as a parting gift to the homeless community by retired Peninsula United reverend Joan McMurtry. McMurtry, who moved to Vancouver Island a few months ago, pitched the idea of the service to the city in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic forced Semiahmoo Peninsula churches to stop offering free or low cost dine-in community dinners.

“A lot of people in our community rely on those programs, one for a nutritious meal, and secondly for some fellowship, a sense of community,” McMurtry said.

SEE ALSO: Annable, Bali receive White Rock city recognition

In the very early stages of the program, McMurtry said she was considering shutting it down, but Rotary stepped in.

“And it became a regular program. It went from one day a week, to three days a week, to five days a week, to seven days a week. And in the midst of all of that, people were interested and Moti was one of those. Always there, always interested to help, not at all wanting to be in charge or any kind of recognition. Just thinking this was a good thing and wanted to be part of it,” McMurtry said.

McMurtry said Bali was a natural fit for the program.

“He’s a good communicator, he’s non-judgmental, he’s interested in people. So that’s why he’s sort of become the face of it in a very informal way. In a very positive way.”

People interested in donating to the service can write cheques payable to Rotary Club of White Rock. Cheques can be dropped off during the lunch distribution hour – provided that COVID-19 protocols are respected – or mailed to Feed My City, c/o Rotary Club of White Rock, PO Box 75005, 15105 16 Ave., V4A 6G3. E-transfers may be sent to whiterocktreasurer2@gmail.com (using ‘Feed My City’ for the question and ‘whiterock’ for the answer).

Coronavirusfood securityRotary

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks student athletes could lose out under new proposal

(Photo: MOSAIC/Facebook)
Organization receives $10K from B.C. government to tackle racism in Surrey, White Rock

Funding to go toward forum for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read