This Tennessee Teen is Fighting Hunger With His Own Nonprofit

July 10, 2020

William Cabaniss is a fourteen-year-old, ninth-grader from Knoxville, TN. William is an honors student at Farragut High School where he also enjoys running cross country and track. He also is the founder and CEO of a nonprofit, Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow, Inc., where every purchase fights hunger. William hopes to make a difference in East Tennessee.

For as long as I can remember, it has always bothered me that someone could be hungry. Growing up, I had classmates in school who didn’t always have food. This inspired me to ask my parents how I could help. I started by donating bananas, my favorite fruit, to a local food pantry along with monetary donations from my allowance. As I got older, I would volunteer at a soup kitchen through my grandma’s church. I’m now 14 years old, and I volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. 

During the COVID-19 quarantine, I had just finished watching a news segment about the long lines at food banks across our country and the need for monetary donations to help meet these increasing demands for food.  Later, I went into the kitchen to make my “Vanilla Brownies” and as I added the vanilla it hit me. I could make and sell vanilla extract to help support these food banks. It is important for me to support food banks because no one should be hungry.

I founded and am running a nonprofit, Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow, Inc., where all profits are given to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. Each 8 oz bottle of homemade vanilla extract provides 42 meals for East Tennessee residents in need. As I started bottling, labeling, and shipping out my first few orders, I hoped I could help make a difference. Currently, I have received messages of support as well as orders from eighteen states. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of family, friends, and total strangers, and thanks to them I have been able to raise over nine thousand dollars. This money will produce over twenty-seven thousand meals for East Tennessee residents in need. 

(Courtesy of William Cabaniss)

I am donating all profits of Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee because it is an amazing organization that benefits my hometown and current residence. Second Harvest of East Tennessee supports numerous programs designed to help different demographics such as school pantries, summer food for kids, senior outreach, mobile pantries and so many more. Second Harvest can provide three meals for every dollar that you donate. 

By running my nonprofit, I hope to help as many people as I can so that no one fights hunger alone. If I can only help one person, I will be satisfied that I have made a difference. However, I would like to do this for as many people as I can. No one should have to worry about hunger. This is my goal for Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow.

If you would like to help support me and my mission, you can go online to to order vanilla extract or make a meal donation. You can also volunteer at your local food bank, they would appreciate your help during these uncertain times.