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Homeboy Industries Adds Signature Products to Ralphs' Aisles

By David Markland
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, at 11:48AM
David Markland

Homeboy Industries' founder Father Greg Boyle celebrated the expansion of his line of products. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa approves.

Downtown’s Homeboys are expanding.

In 2009, Homeboy Industries launched a line of salsas at the Ralphs grocery store at 645 W. 9th Street. 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: @homeboyind.

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.

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