C.A.N.S. Around the Oval has successful year

Maddy Erskine


graphic illustration depicting eight different cans to represent cans around the oval
(Graphic Illustration by Malia Berry | The Collegian)

C.A.N.S. Around the Oval raised nearly $10,000 more in 2020 than the previous record year in 2018. The Colorado State University tradition, which has been around for 34 years, is an annual event held to raise awareness about food insecurity. According to the C.A.N.S. website, $71,271 were raised, roughly equivalent to 142,542 meals. 


It is also more than double C.A.N.S.’ goal for 2020, which was to raise $34,000. The difference alone, $37,271,  could cover the weekly distribution costs at the CSU Food Pantry for 46 weeks, according to the website.

The biggest CANtributer this year was CSU’s College of Business, donating $18,218 and 128 pounds of food, according to the C.AN.S. website. Its donation alone was equivalent to about 36,435 meals.

Even local schools joined in on the tradition despite the pandemic. According to the C.A.N.S. website, Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School donated $7,793, ranking third overall.

Once people understand that these issues are here in our community and that everyone faces these kinds of problems, it becomes so much easier to care.” -Katlyn Murphy, SLiCE service liaison coordinator

“They not only won but they beat their own record by $5,000,” said Sarah Stephens, senior program coordinator of community engagement and student staff development at the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office at CSU. “It’s really cool that they not only won this year but broke huge records of the past.” 

Katlyn Murphy, student and SLiCE’s service liaison coordinator, said that the C.A.N.S. program had a very conservative goal this year due to the impacts of COVID-19, but she added that it was inspiring to see the CSU community come together and even break records despite the pandemic.

“So many students this year are missing out on all these traditions because of COVID-19,” Murphy said. “But C.A.N.S. was something where they could feel like a part of CSU and be a part of the community.”

Since April, CSU’s food pantry, run by the Rams Against Hunger program, has been serving about 320 people weekly, according to the C.A.N.S. website. They distribute 8,000 pounds of food each week, with each person receiving a 25-pound box of food. 

Another big contributor was individual donors. Over 100 solo donations raised about $6,296 online, according to SOURCE.

“One of the most inspiring things is seeing the $1 and $2 donations roll in because it showed that C.A.N.S. is much more than just the higher-ups and the head of departments donating, but it was us students, like me, who can’t donate $100 — we care just as much about helping relieve food insecurity,” Murphy said. 

In a 30-day period, 32% of CSU students experienced food insecurity, according to a survey conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. In Larimer County, 38,040 residents face food insecurity, according to the Food Bank for Larimer County, and that number is growing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The food bank’s multiple locations currently serve an average of 450 households per day.


“More people this year participated with a little bit more awareness of what was currently transpiring around hunger, versus this is a tradition,” Stephens said. “This year the ‘why’ was in it a bit more.”

This year, C.A.N.S. Around the Oval hosted “CANversations Around Food,” which was a series of Zoom meetings about food insecurity and what people in our community and beyond are doing to fight it. Stephens said that this creative solution to the pandemic ended up being incredibly successful and has sparked new ideas for the future of C.A.N.S.

“The College of Agricultural Sciences, they are all about feeding the world population,” Stephens said. “I think it would be really cool to start adding in all these interdisciplinary connections. … There’s a lot more people doing this work that we should highlight.”

Next year is the 35th annual C.A.N.S. Around The Oval, and Stephens said, on behalf the program, she is excited to continue this education on food insecurity and raise even more funds for Rams Against Hunger and the Food Bank for Larimer County.

“Once people understand that these issues are here in our community and that everyone faces these kinds of problems, it becomes so much easier to care,” Murphy said. “And people are more devoted to the cause and helping each other out and also reducing the stigma of food insecurity.”

Maddy Erskine can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddyerskine_.