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Meet the 2020 Food Heroes! 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.

  • Elise Simokat, Age 13

    Hurricane, West Virginia
    Founder, Box to Belly Challenge

    • Elise Simokat delivered holiday meals to students who are part of the Backpack Buddy program. Backpack Buddy provides nonperishable food and meals for students who may otherwise not have a full meal during the weekend. Simokat’s goal was to expand the food offerings to make sure no student went hungry and would have warm food options during long holiday breaks.
    • Simokat visited every Putnam County school and a few schools in Kanawha, totaling around 24 schools. She was able to provide and deliver approximately 2,100 meals to students by raising money for meals via social media platforms like Facebook. She also received a donation of 1,000 HORMEL® COMPLEATS® meals from Hormel Foods Corp. The company has since donated more than 2,000 additional meals to her and held a meal-packing event at a recent leadership meeting.
  • Grace Callwood, Age 18

    Harford County, Maryland
    We Cancerve Movement, Inc.

    • Getting a diagnosis of cancer is perhaps one of the hardest things for anyone to hear. Hearing those words as a 7-year-old is unfathomable, but Grace Callwood turned the sad news of her diagnosis of Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma into inspiration to help other children.
    • In 2012, she started the We Cancerve Movement, a nonprofit that brings happiness to children in hospitals, foster care and homeless shelters initially throughout Maryland. At the age of 10, she even created a summer day camp for homeless children.
    • Today, Grace is a healthy and inspiring young leader whose nonprofit has expanded to helping children experiencing food insecurity. From 2016 to 2018, her all-youth board of advisors has provided more than 5,700 Breakfast Bags to children in shelters, orphanages and group homes. From 2021-2023, they provided more than 5,600 Brunch Bags to area school children facing food insecurity, and 16 families have benefited from their Spork’d project, a meal kit program for families.
  • Liam Hannon, Age 13

    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Lunches of Love

    • Liam Hannon lives down the street from Harvard University, which is fitting, given the fact that his compassion for others is something that can serve as a lesson to all.
    • He decided to skip summer camp to make a difference by creating lunches to give out to the homeless in Cambridge.
      To date, he has given away more than 10,000 meals and has flown around the country spreading good will.
  • Mikaila Ulmer, Age 18

    Atlanta, Georgia
    Founder, Me & the Bees

    • Inspired by the vital role of bees and their declining population, 4-year-old Mikaila Ulmer entered a children’s business competition. She created a lemonade using local honey, with a portion of the sales supporting honeybee conservation. Through a “Shark Tank” deal, she has made a remarkable impact over the past decade.
    • She has now graduated from high school and completed her first year at Emory University.
    • Her unwavering commitment to pollinator conservation and social entrepreneurship has earned her accolades like the NAACP Entrepreneur award and the Afrotech Future Maker award. She’s also the author of the best-selling book, “Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid.”
    • Me & the Bees is now in all 50 US states, and Mikaila is actively working on growing her lemonade business and expanding her impact through the Healthy Hive Foundation. She’s also gearing up for a launch of a new lemonade kit in over 3,000 Walmart stores.
  • Adam Fellows, Age 19

    Sherrill, New York
    Food Pantry Sherrill

    • For his high school senior project, Adam Fellows was focused on collecting food for his local food pantry, but there was a slight problem. The food pantry was closed.
    • To combat this issue, Fellows decided to build a food pantry in Sherrill, New York, after the original one closed down and the community was not being served
  • Kiki Hardee, Age 9

    Vista, California
    Kiki’s Kindness Project: School Lunch Debt

    • At the wise old age of 5, Kiki Hardee heard that some of her classmates were unable to pay for lunch, which didn’t sit well with this young leader!
      Her compassion and kindness for her classmates created what is now called Kiki’s Kindness Project.
    • Hardee created a cocoa-and-cookies stand to raise money to pay off school lunch debt and also went beyond her own school and helped pay off the district’s debt of $7,000.
    • Katelynn has raised around $29,000 to date for her community, which she’s reinvested in various impactful initiatives. One notable achievement is her support for the ‘Meet the Masters’ art program, benefiting over 800 elementary students each year.
    • She’s been a strong advocate for addressing lunch debt led in California and received recognition as a ‘women of impact, young leader’ from California State Representative Tasha Boerner Horvath.
    • She has held a lemonade stand and yearly backpack and school supplies drives and donated to school in her community.
  • Jahkil Jackson, Age 15

    Chicago, Illinois
    Project I Am

    • Project I Am was created by 8-year-old Jahkil Jackson out of his heartfelt desire to help those in need. One day, he decided to help his aunt distribute food to homeless people in Chicago. After this experience, Jackson knew he wanted to do more to make a difference.
    • It quickly became his mission to build awareness of homelessness and to help members of this vulnerable population by offering them what he calls “Blessing Bags” – a giveaway filled with wipes, socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water and more.
    • He has started teaching Social Entrepreneurship to middle school students.
    • Raised $400,000 over 7 years and impacting 100,000 globally. He hosted a record virtual packing party on Giving Tuesday 2022, involving 400 youth from 50 cities in creating 10,000 blessing bags during a 45-minute Zoom call.
    • In Fall 2023, he’s launching Project I Am: Next Up, an afterschool club for middle schoolers in three U.S. cities. The aim: nurture young changemakers and promote social responsibility, fostering a movement of kindness.
  • Bradley Ferguson, Age 21

    Founder, Post Crashers

    • Nineteen-year-old Bradley Ferguson’s dedication to helping veterans was first evidenced by his renovation of American Legion Post 295, a project made possible by funding from grants that he penned.
    • The following year, he witnessed the tragic death of a United State military veteran who set himself on fire out of despair. Ferguson became determined to help veterans suffering with mental illness and homelessness by hosting advocacy dinners. He formed Post Crashers, created a victory garden to serve as a source of food and cooked full-course meals to go along with the approximately 6,000 pounds of vegetables grown in the garden.
    • Since its inception 9 years ago, the club, Post Crashers, has made over 18,000 lunches for the homeless in Atlantic City, NJ; made 4,000 full-course meals for previously homeless veterans, and have grown over 12,000 pounds of produce for those food insecure.
    • They have partnered with a veterans organization that provides housing for homeless veterans, preparing 4,000 dinners for them and organizing multiple drives to collect clothing, toiletries, and cleaning supplies.
  • Lucas Hobbs, Age 17

    Eagan, Minnesota

    • Lucas Hobbs faced his cancer diagnosis with courage and strength, and upon completion of his treatment, the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered him the opportunity to have his wish granted. Many kids use their wishes to go to Disney or to attend a sporting event, but not Hobbs. His wish was to partner with Minnesota food trucks so that he could give back to his community and other kids battling cancer.
    • ChefLucasFood is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in Minnesota by the Hobbs family during the fall of 2015 after Lucas Hobbs exercised his wish to use food trucks to communicate his appreciation to the community that supported him during his battle with cancer.
    • Today, through food industry partnerships, the organization hosts a broad range of food-truck charitable events. They benefit service organizations and serve the needs of families battling pediatric cancer by providing meals at no cost
  • King Middle School

    Portland, Maine

    • King Middle School students are known to excel at many things, but perhaps the daily commitment of the collective student body to eliminate food waste is among the greatest of their achievements.
    • King Middle School students decided to take on food waste at their school and created a five-part waste separation system, including shared tables, compost guardians and plastic-bag reduction.