Lisa Raiola, founder of Hope & Main in Warren, RI, will speak at the kickoff party to open Aquidneck Community Table’s annual Food Challenge this Friday at Innovate Newport in the old Sheffield School, 513 Broadway, Newport.  The event will run from 5 to 8 PM and will feature a selection of locally sourced foods and beverages included in the $20 ticket price.

“100 years ago, all food was local” says Raiola in a prepared statement, “and food was the basis of our economy”. Her vision in creating Hope & Main in 2014 was to grow back the local food economy by creating a community of support for local food entrepreneurs, cultivating an environment in which emerging culinary startups could test, create, scale up and thrive through access to shared-use commercial kitchens and technical resources.  

Five years on, Hope & Main has launched more than 200 businesses; graduated 40 new food entrepreneurs; created 350 jobs; and poured millions into the Rhode Island economy.

Lisa, a dynamic speaker and storyteller, has more than 30 years of experience in program development and advancement at non-profit organizations in healthcare and higher education. Currently the VP for Advancement at Roger Williams University, Lisa was previously a Clinical Assistant Professor for Community Health and Medical Ethics at the Brown University School of Medicine. 

Hope & Main and Aquidneck Community Table are aligned behind a common mission to generate a strong local food economy and an enhanced community understanding of the importance of healthy food for all.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.