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A salsa solution

Photos by Matt Haas

May 2015

Angela Morgane at Fathead Jerky in Milwaukee, where That Salsa Lady products are sold.

In 2011, Angela Moragne, a lifelong Milwaukee resident, found herself in the most unwelcome of situations — her employer, a nonprofit housing development, announced it was shutting its doors, and she was left unemployed. It was this same company’s vibrant urban garden, however, that would prove to be the catalyst behind her current success. The garden had provided fresh produce to the development’s residents, a program Moragne had long admired, so instead of letting the plot perish with its owner, Moragne and her daughter, Stevey Pitts, began using its ingredients to make, market and sell salsa. "The salsa garden was free, we were broke, so we thought, ‘Hey, we can use this!’ And that’s how we got started." explains Moragne.

Four years later, Moragne and her daughter have built their salsa-making experiment into a full-fledged business — a food production company named That Salsa Lady. They use ingredients provided by local urban agriculture programs (Alice’s Garden, Walnut Way, Vincent High School and Growing Power, to name a few) to manufacture each kind of salsa, which now includes more than 13 varieties and a queso dip. And in 2012, the mother-daughter duo launched The CHip CHick, a natural next step that addresses their consumers’ demand for high-quality tortilla chips.

The salsa and chips can be purchased at farmers’ markets and storefronts throughout the city, but Moragne’s ultimate goal is to be in every corner store. "It would be great to be in the big supermarkets, but people in ‘food desserts’ don’t have access to the big supermarkets," she explains.

Her desire to improve Milwaukee’s ever-evolving food system is one that begins with first helping lower income communities, bringing healthy foods into otherwise impoverished areas. "Our philosophy is that a for-profit business shouldn’t just be for its own profit," she says. "To have the biggest impact, it must be for the profit of all those that we are impacting."

This philosophy is best reflected in That Salsa Lady’s "Flava Forward" campaign, which ensures that no one is denied access to their products because of monetary limitations. The campaign pools together the cash or credit card tips collected from sales and redistributes these funds to those who may be short a few dollars that day and therefore unable to purchase a product. "No excuse is needed. We’ll cover you," adds Moragne. "No one will walk away without salsa."

Moragne is also quick to stress the versatility of That Salsa Lady products. "The biggest thing is for people to know that our salsa can literally go with every meal," she adds. Her best personal recommendation? Combining the roasted herb and garden salsa with tomato paste and using it as a pasta sauce. "I love pasta!" she says with a laugh. To learn more about That Salsa Lady or where to purchase the products, visit


This story ran in the May 2015 issue of: