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National Restaurant Association - Industry must find ways to attract growing Hispanic population

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Industry must find ways to attract growing Hispanic population

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Restaurants must not only attract the growing Hispanic market, but also develop more effective ways of promoting its employees into management, a National Restaurant Association official told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last week.

"Hispanics are making up a bigger portion of the market and their tastes are now merging into the mainstream American population," said Angelo Amador, the NRA's vice president of labor and workforce policy said March 21. "They're asking about food and healthy living, and our foods are influencing the items that are sold in restaurants.

"At the same time, it's no secret that the industry's workforce is largely Hispanic," he continued. "We're seeing a trend now where there is more of a push toward management positions and this is hugely important to CEOs. Many of them tell me it is their No. 1 importance - to grow that number, to get [Hispanic workers] into corporate positions."

Amador spoke on a panel entitled "U.S. Leadership in the Global Food Economy," sharing the podium with Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, Anne Alonzo, vice president of global public policy for Kraft Foods Inc., and Liz Lopez, an attorney for Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

He noted that advocacy is an important part of the industry's equation in advancing Hispanic employees from the cook line to the boardroom.

"We need to let Congress know, and keep repeating the message, that we're very proud of our line workers and our managers," he said. "In order to create more opportunities for more people, we need more resources to provide education. That is our biggest challenge. Nevertheless, I do think there is a clearer path to the boardroom today than ever before. That kind of opportunity is more evident at restaurant companies than in any other industry in this country."

Pictured top, right: Moderator Liz Lopez of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, left, with Peter Larkin of the National Grocers Association, second from left, Anne Alonzo of Kraft Foods Inc., center, Angelo Amador of the NRA, second from right, and Kathleen Merrigan of the USDA.

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