This post is to celebrate a new publication: Promoting healthy eating in Latin American restaurants. The article presents the findings from our initial listening sessions with Latin American restaurant stakeholders for my restaurant research project. Our efforts began almost two years ago, in the fall of 2020, after the first summer of COVID-19.
Working with an amazing team of students at Brooklyn College, we were able to recruit twenty participants, including owners, chefs, and front-of-the-house staff. The sessions, conducted via Zoom, allowed me to learn about the lives and experiences of those in the restaurant industry, including their grit and motivation to move forward, in spite of the ongoing uncertainty plaguing all our lives at the time.
The manuscript focuses on the perspectives and resource needs for restaurants to engage in healthy eating promotion activities commonly seen in the industry, such as menu highlights of healthy dishes, offering small portion sizes, or increasing the availability of healthier options, among others. The piece contributes to a growing body of work related to food environment research and interventions seeking to change restaurant environments. Our findings provide a much-needed perspective from the sector, potentially questioning assumptions we – in the public health and nutrition sector – may have regarding the ease of change, particularly for non-corporate restaurants serving immigrant and ethnic communities in the US.
These listening sessions are the base for our work in the Latin American Restaurants in Action Project. We completed the initial pilots with two amazing restaurants in New York City earlier this year, with manuscripts showcasing our process and results currently in the works! More information will follow soon!
In the meantime, I invite you to read our newest publication, freely available via the BMC Public Health Journal!
And if you want to learn more about this project, follow our work via the LARiA Project page and social media. We share not only research updates, but also resources for restaurants and customers to facilitate the enjoyment of delicious, healthy dishes, while also helping keep these important community institutions afloat.