Islanders dining out for life

It’s not every day you can justify taking yourself out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but on April 25, hundreds of Victorians will.

Staff from AIDS Vancouver Island dined to save lives in 2012. This year, the organization hopes to raise $40,000 by convincing all foodies to eat out at the eighth annual event.

It’s not every day you can justify taking yourself — and maybe all your friends — out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but on Thurs., April 25, hundreds of Victorians are planning to do just that.

“I haven’t picked my restaurants yet, but I know I’m going to be eating out for all three meals,” says AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) communications head Eric Berndt.

Berndt is just one of the countless diners excited to partake in the eighth-annual Dining Out For Life, a one-day affair that will see 80 local restaurants around the Island donating 25 per cent of all food and non-alcoholic drink proceeds to AVI’s program funding. While many diners come for the mission, even those who just happen to eat out this Thursday will help the cause, which is expected to raise more than $40,000 in support of people living with HIV/AIDS on Vancouver Island.

“Many restaurants have told us reservations for April 25 are already coming in, so we are encouraging diners who are hungry for a new restaurant experience, or who want to support their favourite restaurant, to be sure to make reservations,” says AVI’s James Boxshall.

This year’s event doesn’t come without its own political curve. AVI was one of the many businesses to boycott the Nanaimo Daily News by pulling ads after the paper ran a controversial letter to the editor last month regarding First Nations. Since that time, the News has been in negotiations to gain back AVI’s and other businesses’ ads.

“AVI is an organization that exists to root out discrimination and stigma, and as part of our mandate it was important for us to show solidarity,” says Berndt. “What’s amazing, is that 10 years ago we may not have had these conversations, so it really speaks to where we are at that we can pull ads and that people listen, that the community is there to catch us and support us in that decision, too.”

Funding for Thursday’s affair goes directly towards the AVI communities across Vancouver Island, with support, food and prevention program offices in Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Hardy.

“The support we receive from Dining Out For Life means the world to us and helps us to sustain the work we do, feeding people and educating them to stay HIV free. Every donation counts,” says Katrina Jensen, AVI executive director.

As a bonus this year, participating diners will also have an opportunity to win a prize package including a night for two at the Chateau Victoria and a $750 voucher at Expedia Cruiseship centres. Other prizes will be given away on the event’s Facebook page for diners who post photos online.

See the full list of participating restaurants at diningoutforlife.com/vancouverisland, with many offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options. M

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