Learning from listening sessions

The past two months we have been carrying out listening sessions with restaurant owners and staff, discussing their experiences in the restaurant industry and innovations as they seek to thrive in the era of COVID-19. Our second round of discussions reinforced many of the ideas we had learned before, including insights about healthy eating promoting strategies and concerns over revenue. These conversations have continued to underscore the importance of the industry as an engine for economic development and community building, as well as the need for bridging their perspectives with that of policymakers.

We also learned about the current resource needs for these establishments to thrive, while also potentially improving community health. Among these, owners and staff noted the need for more promotion of Latin American cuisines and their establishments, and some chefs expressed interest in innovating dishes for them to become healthier.

We remain extremely thankful for the restaurant owners and staff who have taken the time to work with us, seeing the importance of our project. Independently-owned restaurants continue to struggle in the midst of continued uncertainty. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many see shut-downs in the near future, bringing potential losses of income if buying supplies that will not be used in the short run. Many restaurants ended up donating food for the local community and their employees, while also having to deal with the revenue fallout.

We are in the process of wrapping up our listening sessions, including one potential round in early December to speak with front of the house staff, as important players within restaurants serving as the bridge between menus and customers. We look forward to continue learning from the sector to better understand how our project can help these establishments and staff thrive, while working together to improve community health.

Thank you for reading! And please share your thoughts here of via our contact link!

Published by M. Fuster

Food policy and nutrition scholar interested in the historical, social and cultural factors surrounding food policies and eating behaviors in Latin American populations.

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