San Antonio community fights hunger with Canstruction
Canstruction has ended, but the impact on San Antonio families will be lasting. This year dedicated architects and engineers alike helped raise nearly 34,000 pounds of food through this unique event that blends architecture and food security.
The 13th international Canstruction design/build competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architects San Antonio Chapter raises awareness for food insecurity and hunger. All across the world, cities and their canstruction chapters produce events and volunteer their hours respectively.The countless hours and efforts that go into the can-building process help families around the world.
According to FeedingAmerica.org, in 2017, 40 million people struggled with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children. Texas is ranked 2nd in the nation for food insecurity with 1 in 6 living in food insecure homes.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2016 that there were 275,000 individuals at risk for hunger in San Antonio. About 20 percent of San Antonio residents live in poverty.
According to the San Antonio Food Bank, one in four children locally doesn’t know where their next meal will come from, and so are one in five adults.
Emily Moore, Canstruction Headquarters program coordinator, in Atlanta, Georgia has seen the impact of these life-sized Canstructions. Now, on a daily basis she sees the bigger picture.
There’s a lot of hunger with kids. Moore sees these numbers frequently, managing data and client licenses, and through the engagements she has with different chapters and food banks.
“It’s inspiring to see the data, and the work that the individual chapters put into the competitions” Moore said. “In the last two years, Canstruction has a grown a lot, and in that time the company has worked extensively in expanding the young adults and junior divisions.”
The youth programs work the same as the main competition, but also these junior competitions give youth (ages 10-18) lessons in STEM related strategies while teaching them the importance of community service. These divisions have contributed a great deal to the success of this worldwide event. Since 1992, Canstruction has raised more than 70 million pounds of food for hunger relief.
San Antonio, is one of 150 American Institute of Architecture Chapters worldwide in this year’s competition. Teams like the AIA SA Chapter have worked hard to make a dent in the need for the awareness of food insecurity. The team is led by San Antonio College faculty Dwayne Bohuslav.
With his students, Bohuslav made a replica of the Tower of the Americas and the River Walk made from Trader Joe’s black bean cans.
“It’s a great responsibility for an 18-19 year old student,” said Bohuslav. “I challenge them, and each year we get there.”
Bohuslav said the greatest reward that they give students through this competition is the leadership skills, and the students carry that leadership on and know that they are stewards for society.
Food banks are at the center of the competition taking in hundreds of thousands of pounds of food in each city, each year. Texas has been in the spotlight of this competition for many years. In 2017, Houston raised 171,999 pounds of food for the Houston Food Bank and was ranked first in the United States and second in the world for most pounds raised.
Carla Curtis-Galyean, vice president of Canstruction Houston Inc. said that Houston has always raised a good amount of money and supported the canned donations for the city.
Curtis-Galyean also said that with the backdrop of Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents were more inclined and aware of the importance of supporting the community. She said the competition is close to her because she’s had family members in the past who have had to rely on the food bank through hard times.
“If everyone gave just one can of food-think of the impact it would have on the community,” said Curtis-Galyean. You don’t have to have a lot of money to be involved and to do good deeds that help others.”
Cindy Delgado, chair of the Canstruction committee in San Antonio, said there is a sadness to realizing the enormous need of so many people, and an event like this reinforces her belief that the San Antonio community does the right thing for our neighbors.
“I’m proud to be associated with an event that supports the good work our local Food Bank does,” said Delgado. Canstruction in San Antonio has donated more than 472,095 pounds of food to the San Antonio Food Bank.
The San Antonio Food Bank is the largest food bank in the area, and covers a 16-county area in Southwest Texas. It partners with more than 500 agencies to serve 58,000 people each week. The approximately 30,000 cans used in the sculptures each year make a significant difference in helping keep the shelves stocked.
Michael G. Guerra, chief resource officer for the San Antonio Food Bank, said that the number of hard-working architects, engineers and contractors coming together in a friendly competition which benefits the community in such a creative way is amazing.
“It is a highly visible and creative way to bring attention to hunger in our community,” said Guerra.
Anyone interested in donating or needing assistance click here San Antonio Food Bank.
Updated on 10/18/2018 at 2:55 p.m.
Changed the name of the San Antonio College Chapter to American Institute of Architects San Antonio Chapter