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Arts and Culture

Creative Contest Aims To Raise Hunger Awareness

White cans with blue ones in the center in the shape of a platapus.
Holly Hutchings
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A tower of cans in the shape of Perry the Platapus, built by Hug High School students, is one of many can-builds currently in Meadowood Mall.

Whether it’s an octopus or the pyramids of Giza, 12 teams of builders are using canned good to bring hunger awareness to the community through the art of “can sculpting.” 

At a common area turned construction site in the Meadowood Mall, teams unload pallets stacked high with canned goods that will serve as their building materials. One team lays out a wide-spread octopus that reaches across the allotted ten foot-by-ten foot floor plan. Another erects a schoolhouse that will be complete with chairs and desks inside, all constructed with cans of food.

People in purple shirts stack cans onto a huge circle shape, gradually filling up with black cans.
Credit Holly Hutchings
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A team from Harrah's works to create their structure.

CANstruction is a program from the American Institute of Architects of Northern Nevada. Over 27,000 combined cans make up these sculptures and will ultimately end up at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

Eighth grader Jacob Lolli lays cans of green beans on top of one another, row after row. It’s his third year at CANstruction with Depoali Middle School. His team has previously won prizes like “Best Meal” with their assortment of proteins and veggies, but that’s a secondary benefit for Jacob. 

A boy in a white shirt holds a sign that reads, "One dollar equals three meals."
Credit Holly Hutchings
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Team Captain for Depoali Middle School's team, Jacob Lolli has been participating in CANstruction for three years.

“I know that the Food Bank really contributes a lot so this event helps them since after the Christmas season the can donations kind of go down," Lolli said. "So this helps to bring in more cans after that kind of drought season. And it also helps the people on the team because it gives them better leadership qualities, as well.”

The groups range from students to professional architects. They’ve all conjured up designs, made blueprints, purchased nonperishable food and are now sculpting their visions to life. Teams have raised money and been sponsored to cover the costs involved. This year, Ardagh Group sponsored all the student teams participating. 

Pallets stacked with cans are ready to be unwrapped for CANstruction.
Credit Holly Hutchings
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This is the "before" of Depoali Middle School's can creation.

This year’s can count is the highest yield since Reno began participating 16 years ago. Fred Graham is the event’s co-chair and has been here since the start. He says this brings hunger awareness to the forefront in a creative way.

Green and yellow cans make the walls of a schoolroom made of cans.
Credit Holly Hutchings
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Here is Depoali Middle School's "after," a full classroom complete with desks and a chalkboard.

“It’s just kind of heartwarming," Graham said. "It’s very nice to see everyone come out and support it. You never know who in your neighborhood might be a recipient.”

A man in a gray shirt and a woman in blue stand smiling in front of teams building can structures.
Credit Holly Hutchings
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Fred Graham of the American Institute of Architects of Northern Nevada and Jocelyn Lantrip of the Food Bank pause from breaking down boxes.

A panel of judges will award prizes for five categories, Best Original Design, Structural Ingenuity, Best Meal, Best Use of Labels and Most Cans. The public can cast votes for their favorite at one dollar a vote, with all proceeds going to the Food Bank.

Structures will be up for viewing in Meadowood Mall through Sunday, March 10th. The food will then immediately make its way to the food bank.

As a note of disclosure, KUNR occasionally organizes member volunteer days at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

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