Giving and Living: A Taste for Life Celebrates Its 10th Year in Guelph

Posted April 19, 2018 by

 Written by John Charles

Supporting local HIV/AIDS service organizations is vital no matter where you live. Financial assistance through donations is tremendously important for citizens in need and some charitable endeavours also offer the bonus of being quite satisfying in other ways. A Taste for Life is an annual event that gives back to donors in a very direct and highly pleasurable way. You simply go out for dinner at a participating eatery and a portion of your bill automatically goes to charity. As longtime ambassador Rick Mercer describes it, A Taste for Life is hope made delicious!

Two Milestones This Year

2018 is an important anniversary for A Taste for Life, which kicked off 20 years ago this spring in the Ottawa and came to Guelph 10 years ago. Its aim is to increase the ability of HIV/AIDS organizations to serve their respective regions, and HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) is the local agency receiving the initiative’s donations.

A Taste for Life debuted in the Royal City with a mere three restaurants: NV Lounge, Manhattan’s, and the Babel Fish Bistro. The night generated $3,200, a solid showing considering that small number and a relative minimum of local awareness. The roster of locations expanded considerably in the years that followed, but also included some consistent participants, mostly notably NV (now known as NV Kitchen & Bar), which has signed on for ten years straight.

10th Year in Guelph

Gary Roche has coordinated A Taste for Life in Guelph right from its local kickoff. He first found out about the event while attending a fundraising meeting for HIV/AIDS services organizations in Toronto. “I wondered, ‘Why isn’t Guelph doing this? It’s a really big restaurant town. We should be doing it.”

After consulting event runners in London and Kitchener for advice on how to get started, Gary set out to find locations. While he encountered enthusiasm right from the start, there remained some resistance. "It's tough with a new program because people don't know how it's going to be.”

A Taste for Life asks owners to donate 25% of their food and drink proceeds for that evening, a potentially daunting number for small establishments. Fortunately, most every proprietor discovers that the event attracts a large number of patrons on a night of the week that tends to be slow in the trade. A Taste for Life is also an excellent way to encourage diners to try out a restaurant that they might not have otherwise considered.

More Locations and Donations

After that first year when the benefits of the program for both industry participants and community members was abundantly clear, Gary found an increasing number of restaurants eager to sign on. The roster expanded to eight in year two and 13 in year three, and Gary was soon able to meet his goal of 20-20: 20 restaurants and $20,000 in donations. That dollar amount has also increased annually, a tradition Gary hopes will also continue this year. 2017’s A Taste for Life generated more than $21,000 for various programs that aid ARCH clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Year four also saw an expansion outside the boundaries of the Royal City and into other regions served by ARCH. That tradition continues so there are also options available for diners in Elora, Fergus, and Mount Forest. Gary values the input of everyone involved, offering a survey for each location to complete so they can make suggestions on how the event can be even better next year.

Generosity Made Simple

A Taste of Life has become an especially popular way for people to support HIV/AIDS service organizations because it couldn’t be easier: just book a table on Wednesday, April 25th at one of the local restaurants participating. 25% of the amount you and your fellow guests spend on food and alcohol will automatically go to ARCH.

It’s important to note that donations are not limited to that 25% of each bill. Diners are also welcome to offer up their own personal monetary gifts. Each location has one or more hosts for the event and they will be happy to accept these contributions. Everyone attending has the chance to win a gift basket at each location worth $150.00 and receives an entry to win the Grand Prize: a $500 voucher you can put toward Via Rail tickets to any location in Canada. All told, 23 communities across the country will be staging A Taste for Life this year.

Both Lunch and Dinner Seatings

Gary will be continuing his tradition of stopping by the locations at various points and will be hosting at Robusta, one of three spots offering a lunchtime option from 11:30 AM - 3:30 PM.

Guelph has the distinction of being the first city to include lunch locations. “People said to me, ‘Why don’t you have any lunch places? I work, I have to get home, I have kids. I’d really like to offer my support, so could you do something over the lunch hour?” This has been the case since year five and has proven a real benefit for those with evening obligations.

The evening seatings begin at 5 PM and run until the end of the business day at each site. With community interest running high again this year, there is a good chance that some of the restaurants will run out of tables before the 25th. You can find a complete list of participating locations here; call today to reserve your spot and be sure to let them know that you are coming out for A Taste for Life. As always, there is a diverse selection of eateries participating in order to satisfy every palate.

“Citizens really want to take ownership and make the changes needed so that the lives of others in the community will be better. Events such as A Taste for Life provide a great way to do this and in a manner that ensures those donations are used in the proper way.”

If you cannot attend A Taste for Life this year and would still like to support ARCH, click here to make an online donation through CanadaHelps.