Vanilla is the salt of the dessert world—it enhances the flavors of all the other ingredients that go into a dish. No wonder it’s such a staple in every baker’s cupboard.
A 14-year-old baker in Tennessee remembers adding vanilla to brownies just after watching a COVID-19 news segment about long lines for food banks across the States. It wasn’t right, he thought. People shouldn’t be hungry.
William Cabaniss was making his chocolatey mix, when he suddenly had a big idea. He could raise funds for his local food bank—Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee—by making and selling every baker’s best friend: vanilla extract.
Since then, William has made over $9,000 dollars in profits, providing over 27,000 meals for those in need.
He says, “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.”
It Takes A Village
Setting up your own legal, 501(c)(3) nonprofit isn’t easily done alone. It takes a village. In fact, it takes a special family like the Cabaniss’s.
Since May, William has been creating his own website, designing his own labels, and researching how to make and ship vanilla. He’s also been running the Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow Instagram and Twitter accounts.
His grandmother helps with keeping up with the Facebook page. His dad helps with legal and financial matters. His mother drives him around to make deliveries, and even his younger brother and sister help by making boxes.
“Proud mom” Jillina Cabaniss told GNN, “William is working so hard trying to help fight hunger in his community.”
In between spending time with friends, running cross-country and track, and the occasional video game, William is preparing to continue making and selling vanilla from premium Madagascar beans when he heads back to Farragut High School in a couple of weeks.
Buying a 8 oz. bottle of homemade Pure Vanilla Extract from William and his family means providing 42 meals for people who are hungry. The website is here if you’d like to buy some or make a meal donation. Happy baking.