Coun. David Chesney, a regular Tuesday volunteer, and White Rock Rotary past president Bob Livesey, accept a $600 donation from Mahdi Hei for the Feed My City hot lunch program on June 9. (Contributed photo)

Public pitches in to pay for White Rock community lunch program

White Rock Rotary and city initiative fills gap in services during pandemic

White Rock Rotary Club’s initiative to supply free hot lunches to the homeless – and others enduring economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been getting a boost from the public.

The Feed My City hot meal program is a partnership between the club, the City of White Rock and Joan McMurtry – who, as a private citizen, was concerned that people have been suffering from the closing down of various church community dinner programs. It has been distributing the lunches at the uptown parking lot at Johnston Road and Russell Avenue since May 21.

The Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday program – for which lunches are supplied at cost by Red Rose Restaurant and Seriously Good Catering – joins a sandwich lunch program operated at the site each Wednesday by Peace Portal Alliance Church.

“We’ve been getting donations from people walking by – they’ve noticed the Rotary emblems and asked ‘what are you guys doing?’” said club past-president Raj Rajogopal, one of the organizers of the Feed My City project.

“When we’ve told them, a number have reached into their wallets and given us $2o and $50 – donations like that.”

Largest individual donation to date came from Peninsula resident and businessman Mahdi Hei, who presented Rotary volunteers with a $600 cheque on June 9.

“That essentially pays for a week,” said Rajogopal, who noted the donation had been arranged by community volunteer Moti Bali.

He added that, between donations received from the public and club members, the project now has enough capital on hand to fund another six weeks of lunches.

Hopes are that the hot lunch program can be continued until the end of the year, or at least until church groups are able to get their community dinner programs up and running again, he said.

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