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ORLANDO, FLA. (September 25, 2017) – Taste! Central Florida, presented by AmeriFactors, raised $317,359, setting a new fundraising record for the annual food and beverage tasting event that has benefitted the children’s feeding programs of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for nearly three decades.

Its first year operating as an independent event with a new name and completely local focus, Taste! Central Florida featured 43 of the area’s most distinguished restaurants along with nearly two dozen brewers, distilleries, wine purveyors, and specialty beverage vendors who served sips and samples to more than 3,000 guests.

Taste! Central Florida took place August 19 at the Orlando World Center Marriott ─ the same donated venue where it has been held for the last eight years ─ with many of the same restaurants and beverage vendors from past years and the addition of 12 new restaurants.

Guests enjoyed live music provided by DJ Jeff Townsend and an exciting silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways.

The event’s popular Instant Wine Cellar game awarded more than 150 bottles of wine valued at $4,000 to the person who purchased the winning key that opened the locked wine door.

The Giving Tree, sponsored by Edible Orlando, rewarded participants with a taste of Orlando’s most popular dining and drinking establishments. For a $50 donation, each participant walked away with a gift certificate ranging from $25 to $150 in value.

The Ring Toss for Wine fundraiser was met with enthusiasm by hundreds of guests who tried their luck at winning fine bottles of wine by landing rings around the neck of a wine bottle.

The Golden Ticket contest returned for its second year and gave several lucky winners an exciting way to win a pair of complimentary Taste! Central Florida tickets to this year’s event. Guests who dined at 22 participating establishments during the month of August had a 1 in 10 chance of winning two free tickets just by asking their server for a Golden Ticket. The contest encouraged guests to patronize participating Taste! Central Florida restaurants and beverage venues while generating social media awareness for this year’s event.

The additional $15,000 raised at this year’s event doesn’t just mark an all-time best for fundraising efforts, but also makes a larger impact locally since this is the first year 100 percent of funds will remain in Central Florida. In previous years, a percentage of funds were redirected to regional and national childhood hunger relief programs.

In Central Florida, the fastest growing segment of the hungry and homeless population is families with children with 1 in 4 kids at risk of food insecurity. Approximately 498,000 individuals turn to Second Harvest's food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their family each year. Nearly 193,000 children wouldn’t know where their next meal would come if it was not for the support of Second Harvest and Coalition for the Homeless.

The additional funds, coupled with the ability to direct every dollar raised to those in the Central Florida region, will go much further to close the gap on childhood hunger locally, which currently has a shortfall of 113 million meals per year.

“The funds received through Taste! are indispensable when it comes to fighting childhood hunger,” said Dave Krepcho, President/CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “Each dollar donated to Second Harvest allows us to provide $9 worth of groceries. That’s an investment in the future."

Taking on full management and production of the event locally for the first time required resounding support from participating chefs, vendors, and local business partners and a greater commitment from its all-volunteer steering committee and 300 event volunteers.

“Year after year, the Taste! committee, sponsors, chefs, and attendees have dedicated themselves to fighting childhood hunger in Central Florida,” said John E. Hearn, President & CEO of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “They fill empty plates and bowls, not only with nutritious food but with compassion and hope. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Special thanks to sponsors AmeriFactors, uncorkedgourmet, Darden Restaurants, Quality One Wireless, Regions Bank, and Rosen Hotels & Resorts. For our complete list of sponsors, please visit tastecfl.org.

We also recognize the generous support of Progressive Communications who has donated their printing services for the last 16 years, Day Entertainment & Events, Chic Event Furniture Rental, Creative Artistry, Airstar America, See Magic Live, Monster Media LLC, Accent Entertainment, Gifn Photo Booth, Color Reflections, Peyton Entertainment Productions, Snap & Play, Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Radio/MIX 105.1 and 1059 SUNNY FM, and WFTV 9 Family Connection.

Special thanks to Eola Wine Company and Blue Martini Pointe Orlando for their fundraising efforts leading up to our main event.

For more information, visit tastecfl.org.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tastecentralflorida •Twitter: @tastecfl• Instagram #tastecfl


Featuring the area’s most accomplished chefs, brewers, wine purveyors, and beverage vendors, Taste! Central Florida is an annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence offering an evening of tasting portions of signature dishes accompanied by fine wines, craft beers, cocktails, and specialty beverages. This volunteer-driven event is one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the children’s feeding programs of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.


Angel Tagudin