Dine out for life

On Thursday, fighting HIV and AIDS in your community is as easy as picking up a menu.

On Thursday, April 24, fighting HIV and AIDS in your community is as easy as picking up a menu.

This spring, over 75 of Vancouver Island’s best-loved restaurants will come together to take part in Dining Out For Life, an annual fundraiser that supports island programs and services for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

One key area of support that directly benefits from Dining Out For Life is nutrition: “Nutrition plays a crucial role in keeping the effects of HIV and AIDS in check,” says Gill Scadeng, nutrition program coordinator at AIDS Vancouver Island. “It’s wonderful that people can come together over a great meal knowing they’re helping to provide nourishment and care to others in their community.”

For one day, participating restaurants will donate 25 per cent of food sales to AIDS Vancouver Island, an Island-wide AIDS service organization. The annual event, now in its ninth year, has raised more than $200,000 for programs and services across Vancouver Island.

For restaurateurs, the event offers a chance to give back to their community as well as a promotional boost — diners are encouraged to get out and enjoy a meal at their favourite local establishment, or to try out a new one, with many restaurants offering special menu items on the day. Participating restaurants in Comox Valley include Avenue Bistro, Zocalo Café and The Breakwater Restaurant.

“We do this because, even before AIDS was understood, we lost many friends due to the lack of treatment and the stigma that was attached to the disease. We have come a long way since then, but AIDS is still destroying the lives of many people, their family and friends,” says Greg Hays, co-owner of Café Brio in Victoria, a Dining Out For Life participant since 2008. “Dining Out For Life is a chance for us to raise awareness and acceptance of the disease and maybe someday no one will have to suffer.”

Dining Out For Life Vancouver Island is part of a larger international effort involving AIDS service organizations serving 60 cities and regions across North America. In 2013, Dining Out For Life events across the US and Canada raised more than $4 million dollars for HIV/AIDS nutrition programs.

— AIDS Vancouver Island