NAE Food & Immigration Initiative

Across languages and cultures, food brings people together. To understand the key roles immigrants play in America’s food and restaurant industries, we’re launching the NAE Food & Immigration Initiative. We’re traveling to cities across the United States, meeting immigrant entrepreneurs and sharing their stories, identifying ways to remove barriers to entrepreneurship and economic growth, and partnering with organizations that bring newcomers and locals together around food.

The Facts

  • Immigrants represent more than 20 percent of entrepreneurs nationwide, despite making up just 13 percent of the U.S. population.
  • They own 36 percent of main street businesses classified as Accommodation and Food Services businesses.
  • In Nashville, immigrants make up just 7.8 percent of the population, but 16.2 percent of the food and restaurant industry overall, including nearly 25 percent of local chefs and cooks.

Spotlight on Nashville, TN

At The Horn Coffee, two brothers—both refugees from Somalia—bring their father’s entrepreneurial spirit to Nashville, TN.

As Nashville’s immigrant population has grown and become increasingly diverse, the city has thrived. It boasts one of the highest rates of job growth in the country and has become a destination for visitors from around the globe. Although best-known for its southern charm, Nashville’s food scene now spans everything from Mexican to Kurdish to Somali.

See how Nashville’s immigrant food entrepreneurs are using their stories to fight for refugees:

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Explore Nashville

Check out the annual InterNASHional Food Crawl, hosted by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and co-sponsored by NAE.

Download the Nashville NAEats Factsheet and see a map of global food offerings in Nashville below.


    Explore Salt Lake

    Download the Salt Lake NAEats Fact Sheet to see how immigrants are contributing to the area’s food and restaurant industry.

    Explore Kansas City

    Download the Kansas City NAEats Fact Sheet to see how immigrants are contributing to the area’s food and restaurant industry.

    About NAE

    New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…