st. francis homeless project

St. Francis Homeless Project, maker of Dogs Dig 'Em dog treats, are the winner of the Caglia Environmental Pressure Cooker Contest at the MADE Central California food trade show. Photo by Ben Hensley

published on September 1, 2022 - 2:44 PM
Written by Ben Hensley

The Caglia Environmental Pressure Cooker competition took place yesterday at the MADE Central California trade show, with the finalists each awarded cash prizes and recognition to help promote their food-related businesses.

The Caglia Environmental Pressure Cooker contest highlights innovative new products from the food industry, and along with the Foodie Favorite Awards on Thursday are the two competitions held by the MADE Central California trade show.

MADE Central California is the successor event to the Fresno Food Expo, which ran for nearly a decade before ending in 2019.

The winner of the competition, Fresno-based St. Francis Homeless Project, took home a grand prize of $10,000. Founder Sandra Kaye said the funds will largely go to purchasing new equipment for the organization.

The nonprofit offers employment to homeless women and women in recovery from addiction by baking dog treats at the Clovis Culinary Center.

“I believe that it’s a reflection of the community recognizing that people need second chances and that the recovery and addictions in our community should be taken seriously,” Kaye said. “Work is a good vehicle to keep people healthy, strong and away from addiction, human trafficking and domestic violence.”

The competition was open to all participants in the MADE Central California expo, which began Wednesday and closes with a public event Thursday evening.

The victory took Kaye by surprise.

“We absolutely never thought we’d become a finalist,” she said. “Katie, one of my first graduates from the program, spoke on behalf of St. Francis. Ten years ago, she would have never gotten up in front of a camera, but she spoke from her heart and she spoke truthfully about the problems that she’s had in her life.”

Second place in the competition was Kingsburg-based The Ugly Company, which rescues cosmetically unappealing fruit that is still safe for human consumption. Placing third was Dr. Shica’s Bakery, a Los Angeles based company that creates vegan desserts.

The runners up received a $2,500 prize and $1,000 prize, respectively.

The Ugly Company was recently one of five finalists in Kroger’s “Go Fresh and Go Local Supplier Accelerator,” selected from more than 1,600 businesses nationwide, opening up the opportunity for nationwide store opportunities, including designated representatives and a chance for nationwide expansion through the Kroger supermarket chain.

Third place winner, Dr. Shica, was recently named as the official cookie vendor for My Hart House, a vegan-friendly restaurant opened in the LA area by comedian Kevin Hart. The restaurant plans to begin spreading nationwide within the next several years.

“We got an opportunity to pitch our product in front of a panel of judges — some really esteemed individuals who gave us feedback as I presented on stage,” said Shica Little, founder and president of Dr. Shica’s Bakery. “It was amazing to be able to get the instant feedback from the judges.”

Other finalists included The Spirit Guild, Bear Robotics, Indulge Right, Crazy Walnuts, Busseto Foods, Neliala Birria, and Burrough Family.

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