Canstruction event helps build a healthy community

Canstruction design and sculpture competition uses donated cans of food which benefit the Kelowna food bank and Salvation Army.

It starts with one can of food.

And it builds with each subsequent donated can of food,  a fun way to help your neighbours and nourish your own community’s quality of life.

It’s with that philosophy that the third annual Canstruction design and sculpture competition using donated cans of food was launched at the Kelowna Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday.

The Canstruction event will take place Feb. 4 to 13, 2013, at Orchard Park Shopping Centre.

It’s an idea that was started in New York City as a unique way to raise food for the food bank—to bring together teams of designers, architects, builders, businesses and community organizations to create extraordinary structures from donated canned food which are assembled and showcased before the public, then decanstructed and the food shipped to local food banks.

Since those beginnings, the campaign has spread across North America to more than 140 participating communities, collecting some 17.5 million pounds of food.

In Kelowna, Canstruction has collected 40,000 donated cans of food, and hopes to hit the 30,000 mark this year.

The beneficiary recipients of that are the Kelowna Community Food Bank and Salvation Army.

“2013 can be our best year yet. We are excited where we can go with this,” said Canstruction co-chair James Kay.

The Canstruction concept  has been embraced by the Kelowna Rotary Club coupled with both the title sponsorship of Save-On-Foods  along with a host of other participating sponsors who either provide Canstruction building teams or help off-set expenses.

“It costs Rotary about $2,500 to stage this event but the donations of in-kind services go far beyond that, and help makes this event possible,” Kay said.

Two added features to Canstruction 2013 will include use of more floor space in Orchard Park Shopping Centre and Rotary being able to collect cash donations while the Canstruction team design entries are being built and displayed.

Kay noted the February event will also coincide with the inaugural B.C. Family Day holiday that the provincial government has adopted for every February.

This year’s theme is Families CAN, in recognition of the inaugural Family Day holiday and to depict the strength and power of families to turn the impossible to possible as individuals and organizations glean inspiration from their own families to end hunger.

“This event is a great opportunity to raise awareness, to have a tone of fun and to collect an enormous amount of food to help those in need in our community,” Kay said.

Kelowna city councillor Maxine DeHart, the city’s liaison and “cheerleader” for the fundraiser, said Canstruction is a great team building exercise for big and small businesses to be involved in, and a great opportunity for promotional exposure.

“And above all, it’s a fun event,” added DeHart, who served as a judge for the entries last year.

Kevin Arnason, with Save-On-Foods, said the company’s signature charity is B.C. Children’s Hospital, but local involvement in the Kelowna event as a team entry has expanded to becoming the title sponsor.

“As this event went on, we saw that we could do more to help beyond being a competitive team entry, and our involvement has grown,” Arnason said.

Maj. Ron Cartmell, with the Salvation Army in Kelowna, said the impact of Camstruction on local families can’t be understated.

“I don’t think you can fully appreciate fully what (Canstruction) can do to help a family in need until you meet those people face to face…you get a sense of their gratitude and how it makes a difference in their lives,” Cartmell explained.

He said families and individuals can be confronted with difficult economic times for reasons beyond their control.

“If you have to make a choice between getting your car fixed because you need it for work or buying groceries, that is a very difficult position to be in,” Cartmell said.

Vonnie Lavers, executive director of the Kelowna Community Food Bank, cited how the food bank assists 30,000 people annually, with about one-third of those being children.

“It is a continuous effort to do the work that we do,” Lavers said, noting how local residents can literally make a difference for those in need “one can at a time.”

Organizers have 16 teams either confirmed or expressing interest in competing in the 2013 Canstruction event, hoping that will increase to the maximum of 20 by the end of November.

To become a Canstruction sponsor or to register a team, see more information at the website

Kelowna Capital News