The Latin American Restaurants in Action (LARiA) Project is a community-based initiative to collaborate with restaurants in the development of innovative strategies to boost revenue and visibility, and improve community health.
Restaurants are important community institutions. These establishments help bring life and flavor to the communities they serve, while also serving as engines for economic development. The sector has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to unemployment and loss of income. COVID-19 came as an added pressure to an already fragile industry, and, more so among independently- and minority-business owned restaurants.
The LARiA Project seeks to facilitate innovation in the sector, to assist restaurants serving Latin American cuisines adapt, while also contributing to improve the food environments and health of the communities they serve. This emphasis also responds to industry trends.
LARiA Project overview:
The LARiA Project aims to assist restaurants serving Latin American cuisines address the growing demand for healthful options by:
- Creating a dialogue to understand barriers and facilitators to engaging in business strategies that promote health
- Engaging restaurants in the process of designing and testing innovative business strategies
The project is funded by the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (#K01HL147882), as a multidisciplinary and innovative collaboration. The initiative builds on Dr. Melissa Fuster‘s research, including extensive work with Latino/Hispanic communities. Her multiple publications document the influence of culture and socioeconomic factors on diet and health, demonstrating the need to think more creatively about how to improve health and the importance of food environments (and restaurants) in guiding food choices.
If you want to learn more, check out the project website: https://lariaproject.com/