Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow is making a hugely positive impact on the families of East Tennessee in need. On Dec. 10, 14-year-old founder of Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow William Cabaniss presented Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee with a $45,000 check, raised by selling his homemade vanilla extract and taking meal donations through his website.
“It shows how kind and supportive people are, in Crossville especially, and that really means a lot to me because it’s my hometown and I really do love Crossville,” he said. “It is so great to have your hometown back you up and I’m really grateful for that.”
Launching his non-profit in May, it only took Cabaniss seven short months to raise the accumulated $45,000 for his first donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
“The support has just been so incredible from many Crossville residents,” he said. “The support they’ve given and the kind encouragement from them, and in 49 states, it’s been really great and I’ve been able to go so much farther than I thought I would be able to.”
Cabaniss began Vanilla when he was at home baking during quarantine and he heard on the news that food banks were struggling to keep up with the needs of families affected by the COVID-19 closures and furloughs.
Cabaniss said, “People were getting laid-off and couldn’t afford food.”
He decided to start a non-profit organization in which he would make homemade vanilla extract for supporters to purchase, the proceeds of which would be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. He also created a meal purchase option, so supporters could directly purchase and donate meals through his website.
Cabaniss has sold over 1,500 bottles of vanilla extract. He currently lives in Knoxville, but he is proud of his hometown of Crossville, often visiting his family and friends here.
His goal for next year he said, “I am hoping to make a much larger [donation] in 2021,” he added. “I’m really excited for that one.”
Cabaniss coordinated his donation to fall on a day in which Second Harvest had a corporate sponsor to match donations, when it would have the most impact.
For donations to Second Harvest, $1 equals 3 meals. But, on days with corporate sponsors matching donations, Cabaniss’ 135,000 meals became 270,000.
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is the largest food relief charity in the region and serves 18 counties, including Cumberland, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Union, Fentress, Grainger, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Sevier.
“I want to do this for many more years to come,” he said. “This is not going away. I’m definitely going to keep trying to build it.”
For many East Tennessee families, as Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow grows big, it also grows home.
“I’m just trying to help,” he said. “I want to make the biggest difference that I can.”
Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow’s vanilla extract is available for purchase at Plemmons-Jackson and Cabaniss, PLLC on at 70 Parkside Pl. in Crossville, and Cumberland County Good Samaritans. Orders may also be made online. Visit vanillafeedstomorrow.com and like them on Facebook at facebook.com/vanillafeedstomorrow.