Chips and salsa made by Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based company that works on gang intervention efforts, is now for sale at several different on-campus shops.
The undergraduate student government Office of the President recently organized a partnership between Associated Students UCLA and Homeboy Industries to sell its products at three ASUCLA vendors – Ackerman Union, Hill Top Shop and Lu Valle Commons.
Last quarter, USAC President John Joanino said he set up the meeting between ASUCLA Executive Director Bob Williams, ASUCLA director of apparel and accessories Patrick Healey, and other officials with Homeboy Industries. Joanino said he decided to step in because he knew ASUCLA had reached out to Homeboy Industries in the past but had unsuccessful results.
Homeboy Industries focuses on integrating former gang members into society by providing employment and education opportunities, among other services. Part of its industry is making products to sell in the greater Los Angeles community, including chips, salsa, potato salad and macaroni salad, said Director of Business Development Therese Nolasco.
Nolasco said she was inspired to work with the university because she is a UCLA alumna.
“This was on my to-do list,” Nolasco said. “Given my existing network as a UCLA alumna, it made sense for me to reach out to UCLA first.”
Homeboy Industries will receive additional proceeds for its nonprofit organization from selling its food on campus, Healey said.
ASUCLA approached Homeboy Industries a few years ago about carrying its product in the UCLA Store. But, there were changes in Homeboy Industries’ leadership happening when they first tried to make the partnership, so it took some time to find the right people to work with, Healey said.
Nolasco said selling chips and salsa through ASUCLA is a test for student interest in its grocery products. If the product sales are successful, ASUCLA might consider expanding the kinds of food it sells, she added.
The partnership is currently in its pilot stage because it is almost summer, and most students won’t return to campus until the fall, Nolasco said. By the end of the calendar year, officials may create a formal arrangement to make the partnership a permanent fixture in the stores.
“We’re very happy it finally came to fruition,” Healey said.
Healey said one concern he had with Homeboy Industries’ products was that the bag of chips are larger than the single-size chips ASUCLA typically sells.
“So many people I know have a relationship with the organization … (and) I wanted to connect the university to the greater L.A. area,” he said.
Joanino added that he would like to see ASUCLA vendors sell more of Homeboy Industries’ products in the future.
Contributing reports by Samantha Tomilowitz, Bruin contributor.