When Donna Brozile wrote “Why you? Because there is no one better. Why now? Because tomorrow isn’t soon enough” she was describing William Cabaniss. I recently had the honor to interview this fourteen year old founder and CEO of the nonprofit Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow.
Imagine this. A teenager is getting ready to go to a party. He is making his special brownies which are a store bought brownie mix with his special ingredient of vanilla that gives the brownies a little extra flavor. The news is on and William is watching a news segment with long lines of people waiting at food banks because they have no food, are hungry, and need help.
This sight bothers William. He said it upsets him that people are hungry and do not have food. So with vanilla and people who are hungry on his mind he googles how to make vanilla. Seeing that it is not that complicated to make, realizing that lots of people buy vanilla to make lots of delicious treats, William decided to make the perfect recipe of making and selling vanilla with all profits going to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. “People of all ages in East Tennessee are served by Second Harvest Food Bank. These programs are specifically designed to ensure no matter how young or old, no one goes hungry in Second Harvest’s 18 county service area.”
“Do a little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu
William decided to make Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow a legal, 501(c)(3) nonprofit. He said it was easy to choose a name because the vanilla he is selling is feeding people tomorrow. The name reflects the company’s interest and the process. William made his own website, designed his own labels, researched how to make and ship vanilla, runs the instagram and twitter accounts. His grandmother helps with the facebook page. His dad assists with legal and financial matters, his mother drives him around to make deliveries, and his younger brother and sister help with making boxes. When William approached his parents about this idea they were supportive from the beginning. I had the pleasure to speak with his mom Jillina before I spoke to William.
So how the do you make vanilla extract? According to William it is not that complicated. In my own google searches it does seem easier than I expected. As one would expect the key ingredient is vanilla beans and you have to chop them. So while the process is time consuming William quickly made a batch to his liking. His choice of vanilla beans are premium madagascar vanilla beans. This labor of love is made and packaged at William’s house. When possible William and his mom deliver orders. There have been a few roadblocks. When China stopped making plastic bottles William the skilled problem solver found another supplier. He has even developed an efficient way to make and run this nonprofit out of the house with minimal interruptions to how the family lives. William is prepared to continue making and selling vanilla when he returns to school at Farragut High School in a few weeks.
I asked William when he does with his down time. He reported he likes learning, spending time with friends, runs cross country and track with an occasional video game. William said he likes running and it is good for his mental health. I totally can relate to that as I like running for the same reason.
William said he has been overwhelmed by the compassion and kindness from people everywhere since he began Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow. He has not felt any bias because of his age. If anything William feels like it works to help him with his mission of helping others. To date William has over $9000 dollars in profits which has provided over 27,000 meals. Yes the $9000 in profits has provided 27,000 meals for people who are hungry and in need of food.
So what is next for William? He will return to school and keep making vanilla. He hopes to reach a bigger audience which I have no doubt he will accomplish. His thoughts for anyone reading this pondering an action of good for others “You should try it.”
Our hats and hearts go to the remarkable William Cabaniss and Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow. When this young man saw a need he took action to create a product that everyone can use and helps others. Purchasing just one bottle will provide 42 meals for people who are hungry. “It takes but one person, one moment, one conviction, to start a ripple of change” Donna Brazile. William Cabaniss is the one person who in one moment with his one conviction began a ripple of change.
Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow Recipe
- 1 compassionate, caring 14 year old wanting to help feed people who are hungry
- A love of using vanilla extract in baking goods
- Curiosity, determination and a google search engine
- Willingness to put time, effort, and work into making a product people will buy so that the proceeds can help feed others
- Premium madagascar vanilla beans
- One family willing to guide, pitch in, and help
*** This recipe requires no baking. Everything is made with love. Mix all ingredients together. People who buy this vanilla will delight in the delicious flavor it adds to baked goods and that other people will be able to eat because of their purchase.
For more information on Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow here is the contact information:
Web Site: https://www.vanillafeedstomorrow.com/
Facebook: Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow
Photo courtesy of William Cabaniss Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow