Meet the 2023 Award Winners! A dynamic collective of young changemakers driven by a shared passion to make a lasting impact on their communities and shape a brighter food future.
Read their inspiring stories and the innovative ways in which they are changing the status quo, and creating positive impact.
Meet the 2023 Food Heroes
Cavanaugh Bell, Age 9
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.
Claire Chi, Age 17
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 its events. The organization has already amassed over 900 participants and collected more than 2,300 donations for local food banks, distributing directly to schools and low-income families.
Ethan Hill, Age 13
Ethan’s Heart Bags4Blessing
- 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.
Khloe Thompson, Age 15
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.
Shrusti Amula, age 16
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.
William Cabaniss, Age 17
Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow
- William Cabaniss founded Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow to support the increased demand at food banks in his community. Inspired by a news report and concerned about food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 over $200,000, which has provided more than 601,215 meals to local residents.
Mari Copeny, Age 15
Flint Kids Projects
- When the Flint Water Crisis struck her hometown, Mari Copeny refused to remain silent. She fearlessly used her voice as a catalyst for change, not only for Flint, Mich., but also for communities across the nation grappling with similar issues of toxic water. Through her Flint Kids project, she has raised over $600,000 to support children in Flint, including distributing 17,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.
Te’Lario Watkins II, Age 15
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.
Michael Platt, Age 17
- 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, Age 16
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.
Meet the 2023 Rising Stars
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 over 5,600 brunch bags to school children experiencing food insecurity, demonstrating creativity, leadership and collaboration. Most recently, he 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. It is set to debut this month.
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
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
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 over 100 million pounds of food, delivered more than 83 million meals and prevented in excess of 40 million carbon dioxide emissions.