2020 saw the most successful year ever for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program, which raised a record-setting $345,378 to help feed local residents during the COVID-19 crisis via Feed the Need Florida. The effort is led by Orlando nonprofit 4Roots, plus public and private partners, to support Florida farmers, preserve and create jobs, and prepare and serve nutritious meals throughout Central Florida.
Magical Dining, which for 15 years has promoted eating at local restaurants during a traditionally slow time for hospitality, allowed for take-out in this especially challenging year, with $1 from each meal funding the charity efforts. Restaurants saw a positive increase in sales, benefiting further from the one-month extension of the program. This was the longest Magical Dining run in the program’s history.
“These funds are such a blessing and we’re going to be able to help so many other families,” said John Rivers, founder & CEO, 4Roots and 4 Rivers Restaurants, in a press release.
“We have served 1.6 million meals to date and a huge grant like this will allow us to continue to provide meals, support jobs and help people in our community. Our thanks go out to the entire community, Visit Orlando and to all the restaurants who participated.”
Visit Orlando board chairman Brian Comes was delighted to share the record-breaking donation on behalf of the organization, Magical Dining’s 78 participating restaurants and the locals who came out to support the program.
“The need to support local restaurants was greater than ever,” Comes notes via press release, “plus we adapted the program with new measures for safety and convenience, and the community responded at a level beyond even our highest expectations.”
Since 2009, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining has raised nearly $1.8 million for local charities. Past recipients include NAMI Greater Orlando and Lighthouse Central Florida, Best Buddies and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
What’s most beautiful about Magical Dining, Rivers told the Sentinel, “is that you have beneficiaries — and it’s been really neat to see that from the inside this year — but you also have the Orlando residents who stepped up to help not only the charity but the local restaurants. It’s the community and the restaurants, working together, to make a difference.”
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