It started with an idea. 27 years ago, a CSU student saw the need to change hunger in Larimer County. Today, that symbolic idea turned into a goal of over $50,000 and 40,000 pounds of food raised.
“Our signature event is Cans Around the Oval,” said President Tony Frank, as he addressed the crowd gathered on the Oval for the event.
Over 200 volunteers from CSU colleges, organizations, Greek life and non-affiliated university groups were present. These groups gather from around the community to donate, collect and organize collection of cans.
“CSU’s Cans Around the Oval is the largest food drive in Colorado,” said Nathan Kay, Larimer County food bank warehouse manager.
CSU is not the only college that hosts an event like this. CU-Boulder hosts one every year as well, but ends up with less cans altogether.
“CU does one every year and has for many years, but they only raise 2,000 pounds,” Kay said. “We blow it away here.”
Last year, Cans Around the Oval collected 52,188 pounds of food and $37,661 in donations. Cans are still being collected and the full amount will be known next week.
This year, the Food Bank is changing their focus to monetary donations, especially because of the recent flood tragedy.
“This is a special year because of all the flooding,” said Andrea Franklin, the special volunteer events coordinator of Cans Around the Oval.
The Food Bank of Larimer County is the only Feeding America clearinghouse in the area and during the first week of the floods, 30,000 pounds of food were shipped out.
The food and money raised during Cans Around the Oval this week will replenish that supply.
One can purchased at the grocery store can feed a person for a dollar and one dollar can be stretched into four meals, according to Kay.
President Tony Frank, who typically donates tons of rice each year, said his Sams Club card was expired this year so he had to resort to other methods.
“I present to you a really handy way to buy a ton of rice,” Frank said, while holding up a check. President Frank also serves on the board of directors for the Larimer County Food Bank and laid down the first can of food following his address.
The event’s first year was 1987. Back then, volunteers could only wrap cans around one lap, with the cans spread nearly five feet apart.
“If all the cans collected this year were to wrap around the oval, there would be a multitude of laps,” Franklin said.
Recognizing the need to give back, volunteer Chris Lierheimer came with Construction Managers Association of America Club to assist at one of the weigh stations.
“The CMAA club is really about bridging the gap between industry and students,” Lierheimer said.
Last week at the “Can-struction” event, where volunteers construct buildings or designs with their donated cans, over 8,000 pounds of food were collected.
One memorable construction came from Lincoln Middle School where the volunteers created a river out of their cans.
“Hunger looks like a kid who comes to school tired and has a headache because they didn’t eat enough on the weekend,” said Nina Bodenhamer, on behalf of the Larimer County Food Bank.
Although the event has been going on for 27 years, the need is still present, according to Bodenhamer. Any cans or monetary donations can be given online, at the SLiCE office or at the Larimer County Food Bank.
Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Hemperly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff Writer Josephine Bush contributed to this article.