Dog treat bakery with inclusive mission thrives in pandemic

Community

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Using beer grains to make biscuits, Beer City Dog Biscuits gives adults with special needs a business to call their own.

The nonprofit was started three years ago by a couple of West Michigan moms whose sons were aging out of the public school system. Leslie Hooker and Suzanne Wilcox realized that there weren’t many options for adults with disabilities, so they decided to change that. Using a simple recipe of eggs, peanut butter, rice flour and grains donated by Founders Brewing Co., the women started making dog biscuits with their sons.

“They mix the dough, they put the dough in the mold, they put the label on the bag, they put the biscuits on the bag, so there’s lots of details that goes with that,” Wilcox listed.

Today, the biscuits are sold in 70 retail locations and the nonprofit includes workers from the Kent Intermediate School District Special Education program and adult foster homes.

“We can all learn from them: They’re kind, they’re content and they’re hardworking,” Hooker said.

The pandemic didn’t slow things down. In fact, business has never been better. Retail sales increased 300% and the products are sold online to pets around the world.

Beer City has also come up with new flavors: blueberry flaxseed and cherry coconut crunch.

“We love our mission, empowering the disabled and making a more inclusive community,” Hooker said. “But just as important are the biscuits: That’s really important to us to have a good product and a healthy product for our dogs.”

If you would like to order some of the treats or sign up to volunteer or donate, go to beercitydogbiscuits.org.

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