Thursday, March 11, 2010

Introducing Canstruction

A neat and unique fundraiser for food banks involves the building of art using donated cans of food. It's called Canstruction, an event where engineers and architects design and build sculptures made out of cans of food. Once all the sculptures are judged and awarded, the cans of food are given to the local food shelter.

One such Canstruction is going on next weekend in Billings, Montana. From the newspaper The Billings Outpost, writer Jennifer Molk describes the fundraiser. You can see photos of past sculptures by visiting

Dr. Karen Beiser of Rocky Mountain College is spearheading this year’s inaugural event in Billings, with the aid of dozens of area architects, engineers, and faculty members and students from Rocky’s rival down the street, Montana State University Billings.

“Both colleges within a few days of each other approached us to do this project and we’re just delighted that the two universities are doing this as a team effort,” said Sheryl Shandy, executive director of the Billings Food Bank. “Hunger and homeless are never a turf issue.”

Dr. Beiser is an adviser and teacher for SIFE, Students in Free Enterprise, at RMC. One of her former students approached her in early December and suggested she look into the competition.

“I’d never heard of it before,” she said.”I went to and thought, we can do this! So I started the process of looking into it. We had to get the charter from the national organization. My class purchased the right to do this.”

Canstruction has been in existence for nearly two decades and raised around 10 million pounds of food during that time to fight hunger. There are more than 140 cities in the United States and Canada participating this year, including Great Falls and Missoula, which are representing Montana.

A single Canstruction project can consist of thousands of cans of food, up to 5,000 in some cases, to produce life-size images such as sailboats, panda bears, a giant globe, and even a portrait of the president of the United States. Here at home, the theme is a conventional one.

“You won’t believe the crazy things people have built,” Dr. Beiser said. “But we are suggesting a Montana or Billings theme. We want to keep it home-focused in that sense for this year.”

Ms. Shandy averages the retail value of each full-size can of food at about $1. “For us, that converts to 2,000 meals that can be provided,” she said. “It converts to a lot of meals. It’s a lot of boxes of food going out to families.”

No comments: