HOUSTON -- Rice Epicurean Markets here is briskly selling jars of home-grown salsa created by local middle-school students.
As reported in SN, students of the Memorial Middle School created the salsa as part of a cross-curriculum project, for the purpose of raising money for charity. So far they have raised enough money to present $2,500 to Texas Children's Hospital for its Radio Lollipop in-house broadcast.
Scott Silverman, vice president of specialty foods for the retailer, was the point man at Rice Epicurean. He promised to buy 200 jars of a mild-flavored, chunky sauce called "Order From the Border, A Real Grand Salsa." Order From the Border comes in a 12.5-ounce jar and retails for $2.99.
"Half of the jars are already sold," he told SN June 9. "We may do a re-order on it. That would not be unexpected; we printed enough labels, and as long as we've paid all the expenses, we might as well." A second shipment would be more profitable for the charity, he noted.
About 25 teams of students were involved in creating preliminary salsa recipes. As part of the project, 120 students were taken by bus to visit Brazos Country Foods, in College Station, Texas, and Texas A&M's food labs, also located there. The salsa project, dubbed Project Epicurean, involved just about every department in the school. Kids even used algebra problems to come up with the right price.
Rice Epicurean received a lot of good publicity, Silverman noted; a story was even run in the Saturday food section, and one in the business section, of the Houston Chronicle. Silverman was pleased with the outcome. "If you make a donation of money, sometimes it gets lost. This kind of donation of our time, and of profits, if sales of other salsas [are temporarily affected], is a small price to pay. We are doing something for the community and for the school. It's a model program," Silverman said. "My goal was to direct, but to let the students do everything, and they did."
Silverman admitted to being nervous during the final recipe tasting, because he had committed to buying the product. "Not all the eight salsa finalists tasted wonderful, but [the kids] did pick the best one. I was delighted," he said.