Who knew a salsa could make such a difference?
Homeboy Industries, a non-profit founded by L.A. native Father Greg Boyle in an effort to address the the growing problems and of gang-involved youth, has had its hand in creating a safer Downtown neighborhood. Now Homeboy hopes that Ralphs customers will quite literally lend a hand by scooping some of their namesake chips into their first ever mass-produced line of salsas.
The non-profit for at-risk youths, Homeboy Industries, has been a successful endeavor in many ways for founder Father Gregory Boyle. But is it financially profitable? Not quite. After a difficult year for the 19-year-old organization, Boyle decided it was time to launch a food product that could be mass distributed and create additional revenue for the company. Perhaps Homeboy chips and salsa will do the trick. Sold in Ralphs markets throughout L.A. and Southern California, “the launch of the salsa is part of the turnaround effort to make Homeboy Industries financially sustainable,” says a company press release.
All proceeds will benefit Homeboy programs and Ralphs is donating an additional $50,000 to the organization. Recipes for the salsa, including flavors such as morita, mango, salsa verde, pico de gallo, and mole were created by chef Pati Zarate of Homegirl.
On Wednesday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was on hand to announce that Homeboy’s products, which have grown to include tortilla chips, would be expanding to 256 Ralphs locations across Southern California.
Profits from the sales of the salsa and chips will help support the organization. Homeboy Industries founder Father Greg Boyle said that “with each tub of salsa you buy, we’re offering these young people a sense of hope.”
“This is a happy story about young men and women who have had hurdles in their lives,” Villaraigosa said. He praised the employees at Homeboy, “who may have fallen down once or twice, but have gotten up and chosen to take another path.”
Packages of Homeboy Tortilla Strips feature the slogan, “Jobs Not Jails,” referring to the organization’s mission of deterring youth from gangs by providing job training and placement assistance, among other programs. Since opening in 1992, Homeboy Industries has been credited with rehabilitating 12,000 gang members in the L.A. area. Backdrops at the event also included another Homeboy slogan, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
Two individuals spoke at the event describing the impact Homeboy Industries has had on their lives. Alicia Ruiz, 23, credited the organization with saving her from the streets, and providing her with work at the Homegirl Cafe and a certificate in culinary arts. After living half his life in prison, Kyle Shoaf, 31, said that something drew him into Homeboy’s headquarters, where he’s since become part of their leadership council. He kidded with Villaraigosa that he’d be aiming for his job next.
Ralphs customers will be able to choose from a variety of salsas like Morita, Mango, Salsa Verde, Pico de Gallo, and Mole, all inspired by recipes from Chef Pati Zarate of Homegirl Cafe.
In addition to being available at local Ralphs grocery stores, samples of Homeboy’s salsas and tortillas will be handed out around Los Angeles through the Homeboy Food Truck, which, of course, has a Twitter feed.
The organization has other new ventures in the works as well. It hopes to open an eatery at LAX, and this fall won a bid to operate the cafe on the second floor of City Hall. The eatery, to be called the Homeboy General Store, would offer breakfast and lunch as well as drinks and sundries.
Homeboy Industries on Twitter: http://twitter.com/homeboyind