Targeting the Taqueria - Steps To A Healthier Salinas

A Good Idea


This program was an effort to work with local Mexican taqueria restaurants to promote existing healthy food options and also modify other menu options to be more healthful. A taqueria was defined as a restaurant offering typical Mexican food (burritos, tacos) which is ordered at a counter. A survey was developed to assess menu options and taqueria menus were compared to local American fast-food restaurants. The initial efforts focused on taquerias in low income census tracts in Salinas, California. A protocol was developed that detailed steps for health educators to approach and work with taqueria owners. After the initial menu development period, regular visits were conducted three times a year to reinforce changes and answer owner questions.

A list of healthy food menu options and preparation suggestions was developed. Healthy menu items were marked on menus with a logo developed for the project. Health educators assisted owners to update their photo menus to reflect the healthier way foods were served. To increase demand of healthier food items, a coupon program was developed for customers to use at participating taquerias. Restaurant owners were also provided with other materials such as coupons for newspaper advertising, diabetes brochures for distribution to customers, and educational table signs. Successful methods at initially enrolled restaurants were incorporated into a healthy nutrition tool kit for dissemination to other taquerias in the county.

Goal / Mission

To partner with local Mexican taqueria restaurants to promote healthy food options

Results / Accomplishments

A baseline assessment of taquerias and American fast-food restaurants indicated that taquerias were significantly more likely than fast-food restaurants to offer non-fried carbohydrate offerings (p <0.001), but fast-food restaurants were significantly more likely to have nutritional content information available to customers (p <0.05) and entrees labeled as healthy/low fat (p <0.001). Taquerias were significantly more concentrated in lower than higher income neighborhoods (p = .01). Of the 16 taquerias (out of 35 total in Salinas) contacted in the initial intervention from July 2006 through August 2007, 15 (94%) owners agreed to and began distributing health education materials on healthy lifestyle choices. Thirteen (81%) introduced or began promoting one or more healthier side options. Eight (50%) began promoting entrees that were based on healthier food options. Among this group, seven (88%) modified existing entrees or created entrees that were healthier.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Marilyn Winkleby
Stanford University School of Medicine
251 Campus Drive, MC: 5411, Room X342
Stanford, CA 94305-5411
(650) 723-7055
Health / Exercise, Nutrition, & Weight
Health / Diabetes
Health / Heart Disease & Stroke
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Monterey County Health Department
CDC Healthy Communities Program
Date of publication
Apr 2009
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Racial/Ethnic Minorities

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