Expect to find Homeboy Industries' line of tortilla chips in the snack aisle at Walmart when the store opens in Grand Plaza sometime later this month. Three types of salsas (mango as well as mild and hot versions of pico de gallo), all recipes of chef Pati Zarate at Homegirl Café, will also be coming soon after the store's grand opening. The Downtown location will be the first Walmart to carry Homeboy tortilla chips and salsa.
In terms of major chains, however, the retailer isn't the first to offer the snack line. That distinction goes to Ralphs, which started to stock the line at locations in Southern California when it first launched in early 2011. The products were created “to make Homeboy Industries financially sustainable,” according to a press release sent by the organization around that time.
Thomas Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries, indicates that the organization may eventually expand what's offered at the retailer. “For now, we want to start with chips and salsa, but we also have salads and drinks that we'd want to introduce.”
This is welcome turn of events for the non-profit organization, which had experienced serious financial woes just three years ago, then needing $5 million to survive. Father Gregory Boyle, who founded Homeboy 20-plus years ago, had to lay off a substantial number of employees in May 2010. A few months later, the organization received $1.4 million in aid from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Proceeds from sales of the chips and salsa will help fund the organization'd job training programs for former gang members, as well as previously incarcerated men and women. This includes building skills and experiece in Homeboy's various social enterprises, such as Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café & Catering and Homeboy Diner.
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