HOW DID SALSA AND AUTISM BECOME A THING?
The connection between salsa and autism began through serendipity on an unseasonably warm day in December 2014 when our founder, Stephanie Lay, went to her local Hannaford to purchase tomatoes that were on sale, and then decided to get her son Bryce to help her grill up the tomatoes and make some salsa using an old recipe she had created back when she lived in her home state of Texas.
Stephanie posted some pictures of her, Bryce, and the salsa, on social media, and before she knew it, friends were asking her how they could get their hands on some. Within a week she had over 100 orders, had talked to a patent attorney, and was on her way to establishing a salsa company. By then, Stephanie had already founded SPECIAL, and knew she wanted to make a difference for others who were impacted by Autism. With the response to the salsa, and Bryce's enthusiasm for helping her run "the family business", Stephanie got the brilliant idea to parlay this new venture into a focus for SPECIAL. Her idea was to establish her business, and then, once it was sustainable, work with SPECIAL to create a program to employ those on the spectrum in the production of salsa by providing one-on-one support and coaching.
Maine-Tex Salsa has grown in leaps and bounds since that December day in 2014, and now has a presence at Hannafords across the state, as well as at many specialty stores in Maine and New Hampshire. Currently, Stephanie is still running Maine-Tex out of her home, but she is working hard to move her operation into a commercial kitchen. Once the business moves into a commercial space, SPECIAL will work with the State of Maine Department of Labor to find individuals on the spectrum to employ and support through the SPECIAL WORK PROGRAM.