A Tasteful Affair - An Event to Remember

by Tony Reverditto

Rage Monthly

Saturday November 11, 2017

The AIDS Food Store is Southern California's longest serving HIV/AIDS food provider. Started in 1985 through Christ Chapel Long Beach, when a group came together to address the issue of hunger in a community where many social service agencies were unable or unwilling to help. Consequently, the AIDS Food Store Long Beach was born with the commitment that no one in the Long Beach area living with HIV/AIDS disabilities would ever be without food, love and support.

Those in need are given a standard bag of staples, selected for balanced nutrition, including fresh fruits, vegetables, pastries, breads, meat and dairy products. AIDS Food Store relies on agencies, foundations, groups, churches, businesses and individuals to assist with ongoing donations

of food, supplies and financial support. They receive no government funding and have no paid administration.

Colloquially known as the "Store," they hold an annual fundraising event, A Tasteful Affair, each year at the Aquarium of the Pacific's rooftop. Now in its third year, the "dress to impress" event, sponsored by the Port of Long Beach, features a complimentary Champagne greeting, delicious small plates, as well as a no host bar and live entertainment. Live auction items include a Private Dinner for 12 at the Aquarium, a Maui Condo Vacation, along with many other special prizes. In addition, there will also be a special food donation table onsite, at which attendees may sign up for a monthly contribution for fresh fruits and vegetables to be given to clients.

John Newell, president of AIDS Food Store shed some more light on the upcoming event and how he became involved with the organization. "My first partner, Kevin Weeks, was in the food and beverage industry and he enjoyed delicious food and good company. He passed away from HIV/AIDS and since his passing and to honor his memory, I have been doing my part for the HIV/AIDS community." Newell continued, "Food is something that truly unites us as people and a community, we all enjoy a good meal surrounded by friends, family and neighbors. It is a basic human need, so sharing food with others is a beautiful way to show love, care and compassion. I got involved with AIDS Food Store about eight years ago and began by making food donations and attending some of the fundraisers. After a year, in 2011, I was asked to be part of the Board of Directors and in 2013, I was appointed President of the Board.

When asked how The Rage Monthly's readers could go about getting involved, he was happy to share. "My suggestion to potential donors is not to do this alone. The next time you have a dinner party, ask your friends to bring a bag of food: Cereal, rice, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat or granola bars... things that can be donated to AIDS Food Store or any local food pantry." He continued, "Volunteer opportunities are available on our website as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Donations can also be made safely and securely online via PayPal or you can make a regular on-going donation of $10 a month. That alone will cover the cost of a case of oranges for our clients. $20 a month can purchase a case of bananas. Readers can also donate food by calling 562.434.3425 or by contacting us online at aidsfoodstore.org."

Newell discussed how this multi-level event goes well beyond just raising money. "It's a celebration of our accomplishments for the year, as well as recognition for some important community supporters, businesses and our special volunteers. We will recognize longtime supporter, the Silver Fox as our community partner, who plays host to a variety of events including our summer fashion show, Fox Food For Fashion." More specifics were offered, "We will also be recognizing longtime volunteer Byron K. Bush with our 'Manja-Manaja' award. Along with being a donor and supporter, Byron cooks monthly food store meals and serves as master of ceremony for many of our events. We will also recognize two other community supporters, Christine Robbins and Regina Cash and The Volunteer of the Year Award will remain a surprise."

A Tasteful Affair takes place Saturday, November 18, at the Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. For tickets and more information, go to aidsfoodstore.org

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