BR Dining Out effort to fight spread of AIDS/HIV _lowres

Photo courtesy of the Food NetworkTed Allen, host of 'Chopped,' is a spokesman for Dining Out for Life, a fundraiser for a HIV/AIDS organizations.

For the second year, you can fight the spread of HIV and AIDS just by eating a meal.

Six Baton Rouge restaurants will participate in Dining Out for Life, a national fundraising effort, during lunch or dinner Thursday.

The restaurants will donate 25 percent of lunch or dinner sales to HAART, the HIV/ AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc., a Baton Rouge-based charity.

“Here is something you can go and do with no effort at all,” said Ted Allen, a celebrity food writer and a host of “Chopped” on the Food Network. “You have to eat anyway. You’re making a meaningful and material and significant contribution financially to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Plus, it gives you a reason to have dessert and feel good about it.”

The Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranks No. 1 in the nation in the rate of new AIDS cases, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Centers found that 29 of every 100,000 people in the area were diagnosed with HIV in 2011.

“There’s growth in new infections among younger gay men who didn’t see the original AIDS crisis and then of course there are women of color being affected,” said Allen, who is a spokesman for the national Dining Out for Life fundraiser. “It’s not just a gay disease anymore. And the only way people are going to learn about it is us talking about it.”

Last year Dining Out for Life raised more than $4.25 million nationwide in more than 60 participating cities.

Allen said he enjoys visiting Louisiana because he loves the state’s culture and enjoyment of food. “As a grown-up I’ve come to really appreciate the people of the South,” he said, “and especially nobody more than Louisiana.”

Baton Rouge restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life are: Bistro Byronz, The Jambalaya Shoppe, Mestizo’s, Monjuni’s, Restaurant IPO and The Table is Bread.

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