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Aiden Prior, 14, of Encinitas, with his creation, Hunger Halter. The winning entry, brought to life by a longtime costume designer, will be on display at the Comic-Con Museum from August through December. Courtesy photo
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Two students win Hunger Action Hero Art Contest

SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2022) — Out of almost 300 submissions from San Diego County students, two Hunger Action Hero Art Contest winners have been selected: Hunger Halter by Aiden Prior (14 years old) of Encinitas and Demeter by Sirenna Ascencio (17 years old) of Chula Vista.

While the contest was initially set to have only one winner, cosplayer and costume designer Allan Lavigne offered to create two costumes, allowing both the grand prize winner (Hunger Halter) and runner-up (Demeter) to be brought to life. In addition to having their heroes’ costumes created, the winners also received badges to attend the convention and be included on a Comic-Con Museum panel on July 21.

“We set out to inspire the next generation of hunger relief and food rescue champions while also rallying the community around those who need help with food assistance,” said Dana Williams, Director of Marketing & Communications at Feeding San Diego. “Reviewing the hundreds of submissions confirmed that we did just that. It was incredible to see the creativity of these students. At Feeding San Diego, we believe that asking for help is not a weakness. It’s a strength. Everyone needs help sometimes, even superheroes!”

The contest, which was underwritten by the David C. Copley Foundation, is a collaboration between Feeding San Diego, the county’s leading hunger-relief and food rescue non-profit and a member of the Feeding America network, and the Comic-Con Museum, which brings the magic of Comic-Con to San Diego 365 days a year.

Both heroes were brought to life by Lavigne, studio head of the Bronze Armory Studios, who has worked on legendary comic book films from the “Iron Man” and “Captain America” franchises. The costumes were unveiled at the museum during San Diego Comic-Con.

Sirenna Ascencio, 17. of Chula Vista with Demeter, the runner-up entry in the art contest, which was co-sponsored by Feeding San Diego to bring attention to hunger relief in San Diego County. Courtesy photo

As part of the submission process, each entrant had to include the origin story of their hero. Here are the summarized origin stories of the winners:

  • Hunger Halter experienced hunger as a young boy and set out to prevent anyone else from experiencing the same thing. Born with his powers, Hunger Halter would lose them if he didn’t have a full stomach. One day, he walked by a community center handing out food and was able to strengthen his powers with the nourishing food he needed. One day, he woke up with two new superpowers, super speed and senses, and started traveling the world to gather items for those in need. He gathers and distributes all types of food and drinks, fresh, canned, and any unwanted food, before it goes to waste.
  • Demeter is Julie Anders, whose day job is working as a news reporter. The character is based on Greek mythology–Demeter is the goddess of harvest and agriculture. Demeter can accelerate the growth of crops and rejuvenate them if they are diseased. In her day job, Julie reported on increasing famine and hunger, and she wanted to help. Demeter was appointed by the 7 Provisions, a council of heroes related to the wellbeing of humankind. The council appointed her and provided her with a motorcycle that travels at the speed of light, allowing her to travel around the globe to help those facing hunger.

Thousands of votes came in during the community voting period, when the entrants could encourage their networks to vote for their designs. With the support of their family and friends, Aiden and Sirenna garnered the highest number of votes.

“We were so impressed by the talent and creativity of these students and the community that rallied around them,” said Rita Vandergaw, executive director of the Comic-Con Museum. “At the Comic-Con Museum, we want to harness the power of the popular arts and use it to help make an impact in our community and this collaboration with Feeding San Diego does just that.”

The costumes were on display during San Diego Comic-Con, starting at the “Night at the Comic-Con Museum,” honoring Marvel’s Spider-Man on July 20. They will be on view at the Museum from August through December 2022. The heroes will also be used by Feeding San Diego to educate youth on the importance of hunger relief and food rescue in San Diego County.

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