Dining Out For Life Chicago offers tasty opportunity to show support, Thursday, April 25

Sun. April 21, 2024 6:29 AM by Ross Forman

dining out for life chicago

photo credit // provided
Organizers for the seventh-annual Dining Out For Life Chicago – a tasty tradition to ensure people affected by HIV can access essential services through Vivent Health-TPAN – are bringing ambitious goals to the table:

The goal for the event, scheduled for Thursday, April 25, is $50,000.

The 2023 event raised about $21,000.

“Dining Out For Life Chicago is a delicious way to support Vivent Health-TPAN's crucial HIV/AIDS programs in Chicago,” said Lorraine Hayes, senior director of development. “By dining at participating restaurants, you enjoy great food while directly contributing to healthcare, support services and advocacy efforts. This annual event unites Chicago’s culinary scene in making a difference, with restaurants donating a portion of their sales to Vivent Health-TPAN. From breakfast spots to cozy bistros, there’s something for everyone, fostering community unity while raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. By joining in, you help sustain these vital services and promote lasting change, all while indulging in a meal with purpose.

“With this year’s Dining Out For Life Chicago, we hope to build on the success of last year’s event, which saw full restaurants and lots of excitement from patrons. As we increase the number of live musicians at participating restaurants and include another roaming drag show that will appear at a variety of Ding Out For Life venues, we anticipate this year’s event to generate even more excitement.”

TPAN is hosting Dining Out For Life Chicago for the seventh year. The event’s license was previously held by another local organization (Edge Alliance) that no longer exists.

“We have amazing restaurants joining us again this year as well as some exciting new participants that have recently opened,” Hayes said. “We also have added happy hour, lunch and late-night options to create a variety of ways for diners to support.”

This year, 18 restaurants will be participating, with restaurants across all price points, including:

- Ed Debevic’s will be taking part all day.

- El Taco Cart is a newer Lakeview restaurant that will be open until 3 a.m.

- All Meal Prep is a new Edgewater restaurant owned by a local meal prep and delivery business that has expanded into a cafe where people can taste-test its menu.

- Bar Roma will host happy hour from 4-6 pm, featuring specialty cocktails.

- Ward 8 in Evanston will offer small plates and delectable cocktails and is open till midnight.

- Anteprima has been the greatest restaurant supporter, donating an average of $2,500 each year.

- Burke’s Public House has participated every year and continues to be a huge advocate.

- Marina’s Bistro and Rum Bar in Uptown serve a delectable menu of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.

- Kit Kat club will feature live entertainment.

- Lark will be hosting XTREME BINGO.

- Both locations of The Chicago Diner are participating for vegan and vegetarian options.

A full list of participating restuartants is available online

“We produce Ding Out For Life for two reasons: 1) to raise money to support our programs and services and 2) to share information about HIV,” Hayes said. “Coming in for a meal, diners learn about HIV, how it impacts our community, and what they can do to help. Spreading awareness and reducing HIV stigma is critical to succeed in achieving our mission, which is to be a relentless champion for people affected by HIV and do all we can to help them thrive because we believe every person has value and should be treated with respect.”

Money raised through Dining Out For Life Chicago will support TPAN’s programs and services in Chicago that address local needs. “We rely on individual donations, local grants, and event fundraising to these essential services,” including:

- The Tea Room, a drop-in center for LGBTQ+ youth and allies. “Many of the people who come to the Tea Room are in unstable housing situations, have limited support networks, and are experiencing food insecurity,” Hayes said. “Through the Tea Room, we operate a pop-up food pantry, distribute cold weather clothing and hygiene supplies, and assist drop-in center users with housing, healthcare, and behavioral health issues, all within an environment that is intended to be a home away from home. Tea Room users are given a sense of belonging and support by the inclusive environment. As a result, they can freely express themselves, seek help, and build connections with others who share their experiences in a safe environment. It is in this supportive environment that the users can address their essential needs and achieve a more fulfilling and stable existence.”

- Positively Aging, a program for adults aged 50 and older living with HIV. “Older people living with HIV have unique challenges compared to the general population: they are more likely to have multiple health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease, and mental challenges like isolation and depression,” Hayes said. “The Positively Aging program offers members an ongoing support group where they can connect with each other and discuss shared life experiences, as well as individual therapy with licensed therapists who specialize in working with people aging with HIV.”

- Special local initiatives such as community workshops. “Several times a year Vivent Health-TPAN hosts community gatherings where we bring in local experts to share information on topics that intersect with our mission and the community we serve,” Hayes said. “These events are free and can be attended in-person or virtually. We select topics based on community demand. Recent topics have included Xylazine 101, where local experts discussed the effects of Xylazine on Chicago and how to protect our community, and Narcan Training, where attendees learned how to administer Narcan to prevent an opioid overdose.”

Dining Out For Life is truly a game-changer in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Just consider some of the ways money raised through DOFL is used:

- $5 covers the cost of harm reduction kit that includes condoms and lube;

- $35 covers the cost of a hygiene kit (bath wash, shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, etc.) distributed to Tea Room clients;

- $300 covers the cost of stocking the Tea Room with light snacks for a month.

- $2,500 covers the cost of a 3-month supply of condoms and educational materials distributed to local businesses and community organizations.

- $3,000 covers the cost to buy hygiene and essential supplies for 85 LGBTQ+ youth through TPAN’s drop-in center.

For more information visit: diningoutforlife.com/city/chicago