Through a local charity initiative, more than 13,000 cans of food will be donated to the State College Food Bank.
But before they’ve been opened, they’ve been artfully stacked into various structures, including a lawn gnome, a model of the classic children’s game “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” and a tub of Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream, among others.
Six teams recently competed in the inaugural Canstruction competition in State College, held at the Nittany Mall. Hoffman Leakey Architects of Boalsburg founded the philanthropic event, which is part of a larger effort to combine design with fighting hunger.
The winner of the People’s Choice award, announced Friday, was team “@!#?@!,” of engineering firm Barton Associates. The team’s name was in honor of its structure, a take on the 1980s video game character “Q*bert.”
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The six teams built their structures on April 20, followed by the voting.
“From a technical standpoint we were excited about it,” said Ken McLain, the team captain. “But then as we were doing it more, I realized not just the fun of doing the structure but why are we doing it.”
Since being founded in 1992, Canstruction, a nonprofit that initiates hunger relief efforts, has grown to include 150 cities around the world in its competitions. The events involve the design and construction industry in building something creative, while aiding food banks and the community.
For the State College competition, more than $12,500 was raised for the State College Food Bank. Carol Pioli, the food bank’s executive director, said the 13,164 cans donated translates to more than 9,000 meals for those in need.
In total, the donations equated to more than 11,500 pounds of food.
“It started to hit me that we go home every day and we have food on our table and we don’t worry about it, but there are families in our community, our neighbors, who don’t,” McLain said. “You don’t think about it going through your life day to day until something like this puts it in your face that people need it.”
Lisa Hayes, chairperson for Canstruction State College, said the event will be held annually, with next year’s competition slated for April 5.
“The idea came from a desire to do more to get involved with our local architecture and design industry and actively give back to our community at the same time,” Hayes said in an email. “I had experienced similar events in other cities where I have lived, worked or traveled and thought that with our incredible local community, we too could have a charity that is both culturally and philanthropically successful.”