ATHENS, Ohio — Ohio-based specialty food manufacturer Milo’s Whole World Gourmet has just been awarded one of only 7 prestigious national awards for businesses who support integrated employment for people with disabilities. Milo’s won the national award in the Small Business category, following its win in the state category for Ohio. Two of Milo’s five employees are persons with disabilities.

The award is given each year by APSE: The Network on Employment. APSE is a membership organization formed in 1988 as the Association for Persons in Supported Employment to improve and expand integrated employment opportunities, services, and outcomes for persons experiencing disabilities.

Milo’s is experiencing tremendous domestic and international growth, with a retail presence in 48 states, across Canada, and now the UK. The artisanal company’s Vino de Milo line of 100% natural wine-based sauces and dressings has employed workers with disabilities since 2005.

Milo's Whole World Gourmet Milo’s was nominated by PersonnelPlus, a local employment service for people with disabilities. “Milo’s hired its first employee through PersonnelPlus,” said job coach Michael Riggins. “Since then, this individual has been given more responsibilities and been made to feel like one of the staff.”

That employee, Ica Queen, has done a tremendous job for the company, said founder Jonathan Milo Leal. “She’s incredibly dependable, cheerful, and willing to help wherever needed. She works completely independently, and regularly brings in handwritten notes of appreciation – how do you not love an employee like that?”

In 2007, Milo’s added a second employee from PersonnelPlus. Jason Douglas carefully hand-labels the wine-based Vino de Milo salad dressing line Milo’s artisanally-makes in small batches.

Interestingly, two of the seven national APSE awards were made to Athens, Ohio-based businesses. In addition to Milo’s, local biotech firm Diagnostic Hybrids won the APSE Leadership Award. The awards were presented at the National APSE Conference July 17, 2007, in Kansas City. For more information on the award or the ceremony, please contact Pat Gutowski, Awards Committee Chair, at 732-541-4400, or poohg1220@aol(.com).

The Vino de Milo line consists of three wine-based pasta sauces and three wine-based dressings & marinades. The dressings are made with real fruit bases and no refined sugars, and include:
* Pomegranate Port
* Mango Lemongrass Chardonnay
* Gorgonzola Pear Riesling

The pasta sauces are made with fresh herbs and vegetables and have no sugars added. They include:
* Mediterranean Pinot Grigio Puttanesca Sauce, which won “Best of Aisle” at the 2005 New York Fancy Food Show, one of only 30 products to be awarded this distinction.
* Portobello Shiraz Pasta Sauce
* Tuscan Merlot Pasta Sauce

For more information on Vino de Milo, visit

[tags]Milos Whole World Gourmet, national APSE awards, specialty food manufacturer, integrated employment for people with disabilities, wine-based pasta sauces[/tags]