MRM Talking With: Lauren LaViola of CORE

In this edition of “Talking With,” Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine learns about  CORE  (Children of Restaurant Employees) initiatives from Executive Director Lauren LaViola. CORE is dedicated to supporting the children and families of food and beverage service industry employees navigating life-altering circumstances,

The nonprofit recently joined forces with  flavoring company Monin to bring aid to the children and families of restaurant industry workers experiencing difficult times following the recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas.  As a long-standing CORE partner, Monin has donated an additional $10,000 to the organization to help specifically with hurricane relief efforts. CORE ensures that this additional donation will be used to grant support to those industry families impacted by the hurricanes and rebuilding efforts in their aftermath.

Why was CORE founded?

CORE was founded in 2004 at an after-dinner gathering of a handful of food and beverage service operators and suppliers. The group was discussing the numerous and diverse charities their companies supported, none of which benefit the community of food and beverage service employees that make our industry tick.

From that discussion was born the vision to create a charitable organization to support the children of food and beverage service employees dealing with life-altering circumstances.

We tailor our grant to make the most impact on each individual family.

What is CORE’s mission?

CORE grants support to children of food and beverage service employees navigating life-altering circumstances. Since 2004, CORE has raised nearly $3M and granted support to over 300 families across the industry and the country.

What are examples of how CORE helps?

Each CORE grant is unique and specific to the family we are supporting and their needs. We can pay medical or therapy bills for children, and pay for rent, utilities, groceries and clothing for the family.

We can also purchase toys or educational items, including iPads and special apps for children with disabilities or those receiving treatment like chemotherapy, and even send families on trips to grieve and heal after losing a parent/caregiver or child. We tailor our grant to make the most impact on each individual family.

How does CORE reach out in emergencies such as the recent hurricanes?

CORE has been involved in disaster relief over the past two years to help our food and beverage service industry families affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and forest fires, in real time. Families typically find us through our partner organizations, restaurant management companies and word of mouth.

Lauren LaViola
Lauren LaViola

Through CORE partners including UberEats, Funky Buddha Brewery, the Texas Restaurant Association, The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Monin Gourmet Flavorings, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, GuestCounts Hospitality and many more, we recently raised over $100,000 for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the fires in Napa and Sonoma. CORE volunteers handle confirming employment and collecting stories so applicants can receive grant approval.

We’re continuing to help families in Florida, Texas, California and Puerto Rico that have been affected, and are excited to raise awareness and funds for this program so we can help even more families affected by these environmental disasters now and in the future.

What are some 2018 plans for CORE?

CORE will be expanding our individual donor program even more in 2018. We are creating a consumer-facing marketing campaign to help spread awareness of our mission at establishments across the country.

We are also creating a Family Ambassador Program for past CORE families who hope to help new grant recipients navigate their particular circumstance. We will also continue to work to partner with other nonprofits, organizations and corporations to raise funds and give back to our own.

In what ways are you building awareness?

Through our COREporate partners, ambassadors, board members, staff, family recipients and fundraising events our organization and our mission is being shared with supporters, donors, friends, family and fans across the U.S.

CORE has a great network of people who believe in the organization so we are thrilled with their support in helping us spread the message and availability of CORE to their own networks, to fellow food and beverage service industry employees and through social media.

How can people get involved?

There are so many ways people can get involved with CORE. Our CORE ambassadors are individuals in the industry and beyond who support our mission and help spread awareness by attending events, hosting benefits and promotions, or referring families to CORE. You don’t have to be an ambassador to host a promotion and we can work with your company or organization to come up with a great plan that energizes your employees and supports our families.

Our COREporate members donate the majority of our funding each year. These are companies and organizations dedicated to helping us continue giving back to our own, and we are honored to have their support.

Our individual donors and Bear-a-factor Program donors give either monthly or throughout the year, and their donations help us provide each CORE grant recipient with their very own CORE bear and outfit.

Finally, if you know a food and beverage service employee with children that’s navigating a life-altering circumstance, you can refer them for support at