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The National Restaurant Association: Changing Lives & Safeguarding the Supply Chain

The National Restaurant Association has been supporting restaurants for over 100 years. Since 1919, they’ve championed restaurants, affecting government policies, creating programs to help challenged youth, and advancing the industry in ways once unimaginable. Today, thanks in part to the Association, restaurants represent the second-largest private-sector industry in the U.S.

Staying abreast of their actions and achievements is inspiring and helps keep operators aware of the rapid changes that occur in our ever-evolving industry. Let’s explore some of the highlights.

Government Policies and Menu Labeling

Today, May 11, the COVID public health emergency declaration expires. This declaration included the suspension of menu-labeling enforcement by the FDA. In response, the National Restaurant Association has been working with the FDA to help get the word out to restaurant operators on how this will affect them. 

In essence, restaurants with 20 or more units, all under the same brand name, must provide calorie content on menus and other materials. They must also respond to requests for additional nutritional information. The FDA and National Restaurant Association have several resources to help restaurants comply. 

Supply Chain Policies

The Association is also working with Congress on policies to strengthen the supply chain and reduce food costs. To accomplish this, they’re addressing several factors: 

  • Expand Food Access: The Association supports reducing unnecessary paperwork and regulations for the Restaurant Meals Program. This program allows certain people to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at restaurants. They’re also working to make this more available after a natural disaster.
  • Reduce Food Waste: They also support strengthening the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This Act protects restaurants from liability when they donate food. In addition to helping those in need, it reduces restaurants’ food waste and environmental footprints. 

According to NPR, over 33 million people, including 5 million children, are food insecure in the U.S. Additionally, Monroe News reports that about 26% of the food wasted in America comes from food service establishments.

  • Safeguard the Supply Chain: The Association is also requesting congressional support for farmers through commodity programs during extreme weather conditions, funding for animal health programs, and needed resources to invest in regenerative agriculture. 

Changing Lives Through Training & Education

Another segment of the National Restaurant Association is its Educational Foundation, offering extensive opportunities in the industry. With 8 in 10 restaurant owners starting out in entry-level positions, this training can transform lives. Some of their programs include: 

  • ProStart: This national two-year high school program touches the lives of about 165,000 students in almost 1,800 high schools through mentors and practical skillsets. One of the lives this program touched is Lakisha Hunter, a one-time gang leader in Chicago turned chef and owner of That Jerk Spot, a Jamaican fusion catering business and food trunk. She’s also giving back as a mentor and trainer with Hospitality Opportunities for People Reentering Society (HOPES).
  • Kids LiveWell: This program helps operators offer healthier meals to their youngest guests. Restaurants work with dietician consultants and earn certification.
  • Scholarships: The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation also awards over $1.2 million yearly in scholarships to individuals pursuing a post-secondary degree in the restaurant, hospitality, or food service industries.

The National Restaurant Association Show 2023

And now, the National Restaurant Association Show is coming to Chicago on May 20-23. This yearly extravaganza is the largest gathering of fellow peers and leaders in the restaurant industry. You’ll find industry-leading keynote speakers, workshops, and over 1,800 exhibitors and suppliers here. Of course, EMERGING will also be there, sharing their expertise and passion for the industry!

At EMERGING, we provide real estate and technology solutions for the industry’s top restaurant and entertainment concepts. To learn more about today’s EMERGING partnerships and F&B Insights, or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING today.


What are the goals of the National Restaurant Association?

The National Restaurant Association was created to serve the restaurant industry. Some of their goals include protecting and advancing the industry through advocacy, developing talent, and strengthening operations.

How many people attend the National Restaurant Association Show? 

Over 60,000 attendees made their way to the 2022 National Restaurant Association show for demonstrations, tastings, awards, and workshops. The 2023 show in Chicago promises a tremendous crowd, with attendees from over 100 countries. 

The Association’s May 9 press release announced their exceptional lineup of celebrity chefs and mixologists, including James Beard Award winners, Michelin-starred chefs, TV personalities, and culinary consultants. 

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