Taste good, does good, and now a line of tortillas chips and salsa produced by a local nonprofit group dedicated to helping former gang members start over, will get its own fresh start on the shelves of Walmart’s new downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Market.
The neighborhood market will be the first store to carry Homeboy Industries’ Tortilla Strips and Salsa, it was recently announced.
In any given month, Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries serves up to 1,000 former gang members and previously incarcerated men and women with free services, employment, job placement and referrals. Many of the free programs and services are funded in part by the organization’s social enterprise businesses, including Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Bakery and Homeboy Grocery.
Homeboy Industries is expanding its five-year partnership with Walmart, which according to the group’s CEO, Thomas Vozzo, “has been invaluable in making sure we can continue to support and offer hope to men and women stuck in cycles of violence and incarceration.”
“The Tortilla Strips and Salsas were created by our founding chef at the Homegirl Café in downtown Los Angeles,” Vozza said.
He said partnerships with retailers like Walmart help fund a variety of services, including tattoo removal, mental health and domestic violence support, and education and job training. Those services help their clients “become contributing members of the community.”
“We look forward to selling Homeboy Tortilla Strips and Salsa at Walmart, and their convenient downtown LA grocery store,” Vozzo said.
To date, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have granted $535,000 to Homeboy Industries to support job training programs in the social enterprise businesses at Homeboy Industries: Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Silkscreen and Embroidery, Homeboy Merchandise, Homeboy Diner and Homeboy Farmers Markets. In June, more than 150 students graduated from Learning Works Charter High School — a school that has an auxiliary campus that works to educate students participating in Homeboy programs.
“We are excited to expand our work with Homeboy Industries, an organization recognized as a leading model for gang intervention and re-entry services,” said Javier Angulo, Community Affairs Director for Walmart and member of the Homeboy Industries Board of Directors. “By selling its line of Homeboy Tortilla Strips and Salsas at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market location in downtown Los Angeles, we’re helping this organization continue its model of social enterprise.”
The 33,000 square foot Downtown Los Angeles Walmart Neighborhood Market, located on the first floor of the Grand Plaza building at 701 W. Cesar E. Chavez Ave will offer a full line of groceries, including fresh produce, meat and dairy products, prepared foods, a self-serve bakery, some household supplies, and a pharmacy.