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Dining Out For Life ignites an appetite for giving back

The Twin Cities tradition is raising money to replenish critical services to help people living with HIV, on this week's "Communities that KARE."

MINNEAPOLIS — Communities that KARE celebrates businesses, nonprofits, and people doing what they can to serve the greater good.

This week, we're focusing on a nonprofit that's igniting an appetite for giving back. "Minnesota is currently living through an HIV outbreak. If we weren't living through a global pandemic, this would be front-page news today." 

The urgency is apparent with every word coming from Matt Toburen. He's the Executive Director of the Aliveness Project, a nonprofit that supports Minnesotans living with HIV.

For the past five years, the state reported about three hundred new yearly cases of HIV. In 2021, the state reported 40 cases from January to the beginning of March. "It's heartbreaking; it's frightening," said Toburen. "We have the technology; we have the tools to end this disease, to end this epidemic. And so everything we do at Aliveness is aimed at getting that number to zero."

The nonprofit serves two thousand people living with HIV. There's a hot meal program, a food shelf, medical case management, and several services to help people live a healthy, self-empowered life. "We really learned during the pandemic how important our services are. Pre-pandemic, we were a community center, so we were a place for meals, for services, but also for community, for empowerment for folks living with HIV," explained Toburen.

But these services wouldn't be possible without a Twin Cities tradition. "Dining Out for Life is coming up this Thursday, April 29th. It's just a really exciting, really fun event in the state of Minnesota where people come together, they get to eat out, or dine at home and support a good cause and be able to support restaurants, particularly during this difficult time for restaurants," enthused Toburen.

RELATED: Dining Out for Life returns to the Twin Cities on April 29

The Aliveness Project is hoping to raise around $150,000. "Being able to hit that number is really critical in us being able to keep our doors open and continue these services going throughout the year," said Toburen.

This year there are about 70 participating restaurants. For every meal ordered, a percentage of proceeds get donated back to the Aliveness Project.

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