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Restaurant helps feed AIDS patients


Patrons who eat at Souvenirs on Oct. 22 will be going there for more than lunch. They'll also be "Dining for Life."

The Bel Air restaurant is one of 27 establishments in the Baltimore metropolitan area that will donate a portion of its sales that day to the fund-raiser for victims of AIDS.

"Dining for Life" will benefit Moveable Feast, a non-profit group that delivers nutritious meals to homebound people with AIDS. Ken Maher, coordinator of the event, said organizers hope to raise $30,000 for the meal-delivery program.

"I think it's a very good cause," said Holly Thompson, owner of Souvenirs, a Main Street restaurant that serves American and Continental fare. "AIDS is a world issue that needs a lot of support and is on a lot of people's minds."

Souvenirs is the only Harford County establishment participating the fund-raiser. Others are in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County, said Mr. Maher.

Ms. Thompson said she decided to take part in "Dining for Life" because it offered an opportunity for a lot of people to help contribute to a worthy cause. She said Souvenirs will donate 20 percent of its gross receipts for the day to Moveable Feast.

"This is something we can do to help without outlaying a lot of cash," she added. "Hopefully, it will help our business, too."

Mr. Maher said Moveable Feast recently expanded its delivery of meals to AIDS patients from three days a week to five days. The "Dining for Life" proceeds will be critical in maintaining the new schedule, he said.

"We also hope to eventually increase our delivery area." Right now the three-year-old organization concentrates on serving people referred by hospitals, organizations and social workers in Baltimore.

"We suspect there are a lot more people at home that need our services," said Mr. Maher. "As our funds increase, we will be able to do more in outreach."

Bryan Stark, a spokesman for the event, said "Dining for Life" is similar to "RSVVP," an annual Baltimore-based fund-raiser in which restaurants contributed proceeds from dinner sales to the Maryland Food Committee. That event was discontinued last year because the cost of running the program became too high, said committee spokeswoman Eileen Gillan.

Moveable Feast works in a similar fashion to Meals on Wheels, the organization that prepares and delivers meals to people restricted to their homes by illness or injury. But, as Mr. Stark points out, AIDS patients have different nutritional needs from most homebound recipients.

"AIDS patients need a high-calorie, high-fat diet to keep weight on the body," he said. "Many of them also need to take food in "shake" form for better absorption."

He said Moveable Feast would like to work more closely with other meal-delivery services in the counties, training them to prepare meals for AIDS patients.

"A lot of people with AIDS feel isolated," said Mr. Stark. "While AIDS education is crucial, people already infected should not be forgotten. Moveable Feast helps these people learn to live with AIDS."

This is first year for "Dining for Life" in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The event is similar to a campaign that has proved successful for two years in Philadelphia, Mr. Maher said.

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