Hormel has chosen its second cohort of 10 Under 20 Food Heroes. This diverse group of remarkable young people, hailing from communities throughout the US, is working to create a better world by designing innovative ways to bring about a more transparent, secure, and sustainable food system.
To recognize these individuals for their contributions, the company is hosting the group at its global headquarters in Austin, MN on Sept. 13. During their visit, honorees will have an opportunity to connect with and learn from Hormel Foods leaders and discuss opportunities to further scale the impact of their respective projects. Hormel Foods also will provide all 10 Under 20 Food Heroes with a financial grant to support and continue their initiatives.
"We are proud to celebrate the incredibly inspiring people and the transformative work of this year's class of 10 under 20 Food Heroes," said Wendy Watkins, senior vice president and chief communications officer for Hormel Foods. "These talented thought leaders are putting their innovative ideas into action to help solve some of the greatest challenges we face in our food system. Their work is making a meaningful impact in their communities and the greater world, and we are honored to know them."
Hormel Foods launched its 10 Under 20 Food Heroes program to celebrate the remarkable food-related achievements of young change-makers across the US. Starting this year in conjunction with the second class of 10 Under 20 Food Heroes, the food company is expanding the scope of this program by recognizing honorees in three new categories:
- Rising Stars recognizes young individuals who have just begun their philanthropic journeys. Hormel Foods will provide support, guidance and mentorship as they grow.
- Alumni Achievement category honors 10 Under 20 Food Heroes from our inaugural 2020 class who have continued to amplify their impact on the world.
- Ambassador category recognizes an organization or individual who embodies the spirit and values of the 10 Under 20 Food Heroes program.
"It is our sincere honor to support these young change-makers in their quest to make the world a better place," said Jeff Baker, group vice president of Retail Marketing – Value-Added Meats at Hormel Foods. "It's astonishing to see how much they've already accomplished at such young ages. Their humanitarian efforts are an inspiration to us all."
The 2023 class of 10 Under 20 Food Heroes honorees:
Shrusti Amula, 16 years old, Maryland: Rise N Shine Foundation
Shrusti Armula founded the Rise N Shine Foundation after identifying food waste as a contributor to global warming and climate change. She recognized the potential to use this fact in addressing hunger and homelessness. She started her composting program in a local school and witnessed the positive impact it had. Rise N Shine has now formed partnerships with local schools and multiple corporate sponsors. Currently, the organization runs composting programs in eight schools and has donated over 150,000 meals to those in need, with an additional 200,000 pounds of food waste diverted from landfills as a result of the organization's efforts.
Cavanaugh Bell, 9 years old, Maryland: Cool & Dope
This year's youngest 10 Under 20 Food Hero, Cavanaugh Bell, created Cool & Dope, a nonprofit organization that aims to end bullying, spread positivity and do good. So far, his organization has helped over 10,000 people with food and critical medical supplies. He has been nationally recognized by Vice President Kamala Harris and other elected leaders.
William Cabaniss, 17 years old, Tennessee: Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow
William Cabaniss founded Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow to support the increased demand at food banks in his community. Concerned about food security during COVID-19, William decided to use his love of baking to raise money. He started making and selling his own vanilla extract, donating the proceeds to Second Harvest Food Bank to fight hunger in East Tennessee. Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow has donated more than $200,000, which has provided more than 601,215 meals to local residents.
Claire Chi, 17 years old, Pennsylvania: Dancing Against Hunger
Claire Chi founded Dancing Against Hunger in 2022 to fight food insecurity in schools by providing youth with accessible dance education and opportunities for social empowerment. Dancing Against Hunger organizes dance workshops so that young people can feel at home amid change, collecting thousands of dollars in donations for food banks through events. The organization has already amassed 900+ participants and collected more than 2,300 donations for local food banks, distributing directly to schools and low-income families.
Mari Copeny, 15 years old, Michigan: Flint Kids Projects
When the Flint Water Crisis struck her hometown, Mari Copeny used her voice as a catalyst for change, not only for Flint, but also for communities across the nation grappling with similar issues of toxic water. Through her Flint Kids project, she has raised more than $600,000 to support children in Flint, including giving 17,000 backpacks with school supplies.
Ethan Hill, 13 years old, Alabama: Ethan's Heart-Bags4Blessings
Ethan Hill founded Ethan's Heart-Bags4Blessings in 2016. He used $100 of his Christmas money to purchase essential survival items, distributing them in multipurpose 5-gallon buckets to unhoused individuals living under a local freeway underpass. To date, he has distributed 3,900 care packages and survival kits. He continues to provide emergency food, drinks, shelter referrals, clothing, sleeping bags, first aid supplies, and hygiene products to prevent malnutrition and health issues among people without housing.
Michael Platt, 17 years old, Washington, D.C.: Michaels Desserts
Michael Platt had to give up a lot of his favorite activities after he was diagnosed with epilepsy, but he found another hobby that he loved — baking cupcakes. Michael turned his passion into Michaels Desserts. For every cupcake Michael sells, he donates one to someone who can't afford a treat. Since beginning his business, he has helped thousands of people and continues to speak up about food insecurity. Using his platform, Michael works as an entrepreneur and justice advocate. He not only talks about food insecurity but also about Black history in America. He has published two books. His latest, "Recipes for Change," is a journey through a year in Black history covering 12 important events and a recipe inspired by each.
Michelle Song, 16 years old, North Carolina: Community for Environmental Sustainability
Michelle Song founded the Community for Environmental Sustainability in 2021, focusing on nutrition education, reducing hunger and raising awareness about bees and pollinators. She maintains a community garden and orchard, runs a nutrition education program and distributes fresh food to those in need. Michelle actively engages volunteers, including students from local schools and universities, and conducts educational STEM demos on gardening and beekeeping for schools and summer camps.
Khloe Thompson, 15 years old, Illinois: Khloe Kares Project
At age 8, Khloe Thompson began serving her community by distributing her homemade "kare bags" filled with essential toiletries to unhoused women. That was the beginning of her Khloe Kares Project. Since then, her mission has been to make the world a better place by showing her neighbors, especially those in difficult situations, that they are loved. The organization focuses on spreading awareness and improving the lives of unhoused women by providing tools for a successful transition into stable housing.
Te'Lario Watkins II, 15 years old, Ohio: Tiger Mushroom Farms
Te'Lario Watkins II founded Tiger Mushroom Farms when he was 7. Today, Tiger Mushroom Farms provides fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms to his community through farmers markets, and you can even find his products on various restaurant menus. Since becoming involved with the local food scene, Te'Lario started a garden in his yard and donates the produce to local food banks. He is also a Hunger Hero with "No Kid Hungry" and hosts a friendsgiving every year to raise money and awareness to end hunger.
Rising Stars 2023
Emma Falkenmeyer, 17 years old, New York: School Lunch Pals
Emma Falkenmeyer established School Lunch Pals in 2023 to collect funds to eliminate student lunch debt at her high school, already raising over $9,000. In addition to helping students in her own school, she is expanding her efforts to local churches and other organizations to raise awareness and support for her mission.
Zachary Gwiazda, 15 years old, Maryland: We Cancerve
Zachary Gwiazda is the chair of the board of advisers at We Cancerve, an antihunger advocacy group. For the past two years, he has played a significant role in providing more than 5,600 brunch bags to school kids experiencing food insecurity, demonstrating creativity, leadership, and collaboration. Hhe successfully pitched and is currently in production for "On the Move with We Cancerve," a quarterly youth show focused on the transformative power of youth in progressive communities.
Skai Nzeuton, 16 years old, New York: Food Security Club
Skai Nzeuton started the Food Security Club at Stuyvesant High School, collecting 3,000 pounds of excess cafeteria meals to combat food insecurity and waste. Focused on future growth, the club has already expanded to 50 student members and counting.
Alumni Achievement Award 2023
Since the launch of the 10 Under 20 Food Heroes program, our inaugural class of alumni has sustained and expanded its remarkable impact on the food system. The group's ongoing success is a testament to the enduring impact of the program and the transformative potential of young innovators. With continued dedication and support from Hormel Foods, these alumni continue to address critical issues.
- Grace Callwood – We Cancerve Movement Inc.
- Jahkil Jackson – Project I Am
- Lucas Hobbs – Chef Lucas Food
Honoree Ambassador 2023
The Farmlink Project
Started by a group of college friends in 2020, The Farmlink Project connects farmers to food banks, delivering millions of pounds of farm fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted, to feed families in need. The organization has moved more than 100 million pounds of food, delivered more than 83 million meals and prevented in excess of 40 million carbon dioxide emissions.