LARiA Project Overview:
The Latin American Restaurants in Action (LARiA) Project is a community-based initiative that aims to collaborate with Latin restaurants in the development of innovative strategies to boost revenue and visibility, and improve community health. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health, as a multidisciplinary and innovative collaboration, building on extensive community-based research led by the project director, Dr. Melissa Fuster.
LARiA involves two main stages:
Engaging in Dialogue: We are carrying out discussions with restaurant owners and staff, and other experts, to understand current business needs and paths for fruitful collaborations.
Co-Design, Implement, and Test: We are aiming to work with selected restaurants in the process of co-designing innovative strategies to promote business and community health, in collaboration with business and design experts.
We recognize the importance of independently-owned Latin restaurants. 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.
We also see that restaurants can thrive and innovate, while also helping improve the health of the communities they serve. This focus is in line with industry trends, seeking to meet the growing demand for healthier and fresher food options:
According to the National Restaurants Association 2020 State of the Industry Report, “the hottest food offerings in 2020 include plant-based proteins, healthy bowls, and global cuisines and consumers have more food choices than ever. What makes a difference? Healthful options, food source-transparency and a commitment to sustainability.”
Let’s work together to create this needed change. We invite you to explore this website, learn more about this project, and get involved!