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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Created on Aug 30th, 2023
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Canstruction Long Island 2023: A Unique Food Charity

Canstruction Long Island is on a mission to end hunger for thousands in the region. In a race against time, teams are given 12 hours to create incredible sculptures using thousands of cans of food. These extraordinary creations serve as a beacon of hope, raising awareness and lifting the spirits of those in need. With just one can of food as the cost of admission, the public can marvel at these unconventional art exhibits while making a difference in the fight against hunger. 

Led by dedicated volunteers, celebrity judges, and the community, Canstruction LI has donated millions of pounds of food to local food banks, proving that one act of kindness can bring about meaningful change. Since 2007, Canstruction Long Island has donated over 560,000 cans, providing approximately 370,000 meals, and contributing around $145,500 to combat hunger in the region. DeliveryRank has the pleasure of chatting with Anne Bershatsky, President/Treasurer and Andrea Sobocinski – Director of Communications/Food Banks.

Canstruction Long Island is a unique food charity that combines art, creativity, and community to fight hunger. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this innovative approach and how it has made a difference in the lives of those in need on Long Island?

Canstruction Long Island is but one chapter of the international organization of Canstruction. Chapters around the world made up of architects, engineers, and other design professionals use their industry specific talents to highlight the need of those who are food insecure in their region and then work together to create art pieces out of canned goods which can then alleviate those dealing with hunger insecurities. On Long Island, we have 7.6 million residents, 2.7% of which face food insecurity daily. Every can that we can gather makes a difference in those lives.

The process of building fantastic sculptures from thousands of cans of food in just 12 hours sounds challenging and exciting. Could you walk us through how teams prepare for the event, and what kind of impact their creations have on the community?

Honestly, this is a multi-month preparation process, starting as early as June or July, leading up to our event in late October. As a team, we understand that it requires a financial commitment from companies or fundraising efforts, as well as the technical capabilities to design a structurally sound structure. 

The first step is to come up with a design idea, carefully selecting appropriate can goods to showcase the design and ensure they are all the right sizes and colors to create the artwork we have in mind. We use tools like Revit or CAD to create a digital model of the sculpture. 

Once the design is complete, we purchase the cans from different distributors, collaborating with various food providers in the area. After some practice builds to ensure feasibility, we pack everything up and ship it to our hosting site, where we have 12 hours to build it live. It's essential that the structure stands strong before we leave.

How has your concept of 'one can' as a catalyst for change inspired greater public awareness and participation in the fight against hunger?

I believe that every little bit helps, and when we see these structures go up, they become exhibits for 28 weeks, attracting visitors from all over the island. The admission fee is just one can of food, and people vote for their favorite structure, which helps us raise extra canned goods for the food banks. It's essential to keep the community involved, and we get schools, community groups, and families coming to see the structures. 

Every person that visits brings at least one can, and collectively, it makes a significant impact. We've donated hundreds of thousands of canned goods to food banks, especially during the time right before Thanksgiving, providing families in need with a nice meal. It might seem overwhelming to solve hunger entirely, but by starting with just one can and building from there, we can make a difference one step at a time.

Over the years, Canstruction Long Island has made a significant impact, donating over 560,000 cans, providing approximately 370,000 meals, and contributing approximately $145,500 to combat hunger. How has the support of volunteers, celebrity judges, and the community played a crucial role in achieving these impressive results?

Raising awareness is key for us in the architectural engineering design world, which is relatively small on the island. Many people in the field know each other or have connections, so having celebrity judges for our event helps increase our reach to even more people. Volunteers play a crucial role as well, helping us spread the word and gather more cans, which in turn, has a bigger impact. 

It's important to note that everyone involved, from the teams to the volunteers and board members, all contribute their time as unpaid volunteers. They dedicate hours beyond their regular jobs or daily responsibilities to make our organization successful. Without their participation and dedication, we wouldn't be able to achieve what we do.

Looking to the future, how do you envision Canstruction Long Island evolving and continuing to make a positive impact in the fight against hunger in the community? Are there any new initiatives or partnerships in the works to further support this cause?

Indeed, the past year has been challenging due to the impact of COVID; we noticed a decrease in the number of participating teams while at the same time more people needed assistance. However, it's heartening to see that this year, despite the new world we're in, we have one of the largest registrations with 13 teams onboard. 

It's heartwarming to witness the understanding and compassion people have for helping their neighbors in need, to see these individuals and teams ready to provide extra support to those who need it. Together, we can make a difference in our community and support each other through these challenging times.

If you would like to find out more about Canstruction Long Island, visit https://www.canstructionli.org/

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