Three years after it began as a seedling at an inner-city Los Angeles high school, Food From the Hood has grown into an award-winning student-run company whose roots are beginning to spread across the nation.
Food From the Hood, which we first spotlighted in January 1994's "Business Beat," is a nonprofit corporation that enables students to earn scholarships by promoting and selling a salad dressing they created. The company's creamy Italian salad dressing is sold in 2,000 grocery stores in California as well as in natural-foods stores in 23 states. The group was also recently recognized as Kidpreneur of the Year during the Creativity in America '95 conference in Universal City, California.
Enid J.H. Karpeh, producer of The Kidz in Biz Expo, which presented the award, says Food From the Hood was chosen because it typified the American dream of overcoming the odds to create a successful business.
"This award shows that we are a very successful business," says Terie Smith, a 10th grader and two-year owner of the company, which is run from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.
Faculty advisor Tammy Bird agrees about the message of the award. "When we first got started, no one took us seriously. The students didn't even take it seriously," Bird says. "But this award solidifies that what they're doing is a real business. It shows that they are successful and are now role models."
Future plans for Food From the Hood include the addition of low-fat ranch and nonfat honey mustard dressings to their line in April, says Agusto Rivero, a junior who is a first-year student owner along with his younger sister Eloisa.
Rivero says the company is also in the process of finalizing a licensing agreement to allow an Ithaca, New York, youth-run company to sell an applesauce under the Food From the Hood label.