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Hunger-fighting action hero wanted in regional student art contest

The "cross out hunger" logo must be included in entries in the Hunger Action Hero Art Contest.
(Courtesy of Feeding San Diego)

Bird Rock resident helped start the contest in which K-12 students are invited to create an original hero for a chance to win tickets to Comic-Con.

La Jolla students — be they fans of Marvel or DC, Wakanda or Wonder Woman — are being called on to create the next superhero. But this one won’t take on Thanos or the Joker, but a much more devious villain: hunger.

Feeding San Diego is partnering with the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park to ask area students to design their own heroic character who helps end hunger through food rescue — collecting surplus or imperfect food from donors and getting it to people in need.

The winning hero will be brought to life as a costume put on display at the Comic-Con Museum during Comic-Con 2022 in San Diego in July, and the artist will get four passes to Comic-Con and be included on a Comic-Con Museum panel.

The Hunger Action Hero Art Contest, spurred by Bird Rock resident and Feeding San Diego marketing and communications director Dana Williams, is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade across San Diego County. The deadline for entries is Friday, April 22.

The idea came after Williams saw the Comic-Con Museum soon after it opened in December. “The Comic-Con Museum is such an incredible space and … engages the community and inspires them through art and culture,” she said. “This collaboration is an opportunity to engage students in this quest to create a hero.”

Entries must include a drawing (by hand or computer-animated) of the character and a one-paragraph story that tells the origins of the character’s power and how the hero collects extra food from grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and farms and gets it to people facing hunger.

“One of the challenges we face is the stigma associated with asking for help,” Williams said. “The pandemic has been so challenging for so many people that it has thrust them into food insecurity.”

San Diego County has always had hunger, she said, “but the pandemic worsened it, and it needs a hero.”

A panel of judges will select the top 10 submissions, which will be announced on National Superhero Day on Thursday, April 28, when public voting will start for picking the winner.

The top 10 artists will receive art supplies and tickets to the Comic-Con Museum, while the top three also will get a trip to the museum’s Makers Lab for their class.

The winning submission will have its character brought to life by Allan Lavigne, head of The Bronze Armory Studios and a longtime costume and prop designer. The winner will be announced Friday, May 13.

Williams said Feeding San Diego wanted to engage children in the effort because “a lot of children are struggling with hunger in San Diego County, and the reality is, because of the pandemic, there are kids in what we would consider affluent schools with family that has fallen on hard times. They might be grappling with going without food or seeing their parents eating less so they don’t have to.”

The contest “creates a forum for kids and teachers to talk about this and express their feelings in a positive way,” she said. “As a society, I think it’s important that kids understand some of these issues and they then can grow into more empathetic and compassionate members of the community. ... This contest is to rally the community around those that need food assistance and celebrate those who take action.”

See full contest details at feedingsandiego.org/hungeractionhero. ◆