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Champions of Change

Alba Muñoz Saiz | December 5, 2023


Hormel Foods has announced the second cohort of 10 Under 20 Food Heroes, a remarkable group of young entrepreneurs making a difference in the world.

At just seven years old, Ethan Hill saw a homeless man on his drive to school. He turned to his mother and started asking questions. “What was that gentleman doing there? If I live in a nice house with my family, why doesn’t he? What can be done to help?” Those simple questions were the start of a journey. Unable to shake off the injustice he saw, Ethan used his $100 Christmas money to buy a sleeping bag and some other essentials to make a meaningful difference in that person’s life.

Ethan’s journey began with a question: “What can be done?” Today, he’s answering it, one act of compassion at a time. His work has evolved into what is today “Ethan’s Heart,” a nonprofit organization that has distributed over 5,000 care packages and survival kits since 2016.

2023 10 Under 20 Food Hero Ethan Hill and his mother packing carepacks

Ethan Hill, Founder of Ethan’s Heart-Bags4Blessings

Like Ethan, there are young people all over the world who, from an early age, refuse to accept the status quo and are starting to make a difference in their communities. Hormel Foods has embarked on a mission to spotlight these remarkable changemakers, supporting their journeys and elevating them as champions for positive change.

Innovative Pathways: Addressing Food Insecurity

“Food insecurity is an invisible issue,” said honoree Claire Chi, founder of Dancing Against Hunger. Witnessing this struggle among her school peers from a young age, Claire now uses dance workshops to raise awareness and funds to support local food banks.

2023 10 Under 20 Food Hero Claire Chi and her father

Claire Chi, founder of Dancing Against Hunger, with her dad.

“We all have a shared responsibility to conserve the environment. Pollinators contribute to a large percentage of what we eat and our economy,” noted Michelle Song, founder of Community for Environmental Sustainability. Starting as an advocate for gardening and expanding into various sustainability initiatives, her work underscores the vital link between our choices, food insecurity and the health of our planet.

2023 10 Under 20 Food Hero Michelle Song after being awarded her medal

Michelle Song, founder of Community for Environmental Sustainability with Hormel Foods executives.

Similarly, Mari Copeny’s advocacy for clean water in her hometown of Flint has made ripple effects. During the Flint water crisis, Mari refused to feel helpless. Instead, she raised her voice, fighting for her community and its kids. Her efforts expanded nationally, supporting communities grappling with toxic drinking water. Now, Mari has developed her own innovative water filter sold nationwide.

Gardening was a recurring theme among the winner’s projects. For Te’Lario Watkins, founder of Tiger Mushroom Farms, everything started when he grew his own mushrooms at home for a Cub Scout project. He now provides fresh mushrooms and other vegetables from his own community garden to farmers markets and even to local restaurants while supporting food banks.

Beyond food donations, the group agrees that education goes a long way in making a lasting community change. Khloe Thompson started adding nonprofit leadership workshops to her organization when she recognized a need among youth eager to start their business but unsure how or where to start. She leveraged what she learned and put it into workshops. Through her organization, Khloe Kares, she supports homeless women transitioning to stable housing, along with leading projects to enhance water quality in Ghana.


The 10 Under 20 Food Heroes program is testament that regardless of age, anyone can make a lasting impact through passion, dedication and innovative solutions. It showcases the potential within every individual, inspiring change and fostering a brighter future for communities in need. The team at Hormel Foods is eager to support efforts like these, providing a forum for change in years to come.

This experience has shown me how great our world is. No matter where you are, there are always people in your life who are willing to step in and help, no matter what you’re trying to do. If you want to make the world a better place, someone in your life will show up out of the blue and help you see the change you want to see in the world.

William Cabaniss, 2023 Food Hero