SLiCE office’s annual “Cans Around the Oval” begins another year

Monday morning’s arrival of  “Can-osaurus Rex” on the sun-drenched Lory Student Center Plaza could only mean one thing — the official start of CSU’s 26th annual Cans Around the Oval food drive.

As students took turns having their picture taken with the prehistoric mascot made out of  recycled cans, senior liberal arts major Emma Martens worked at an information booth getting clubs, groups and organizations registered to participate.

“This is really the first day to the start of the campaign,” Martens said, who is a senior events coordinator for Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE). “We’re trying to get individuals registered and excited to donate for the event.”

The goal of Cans Around the Oval, one of the biggest food drives in northern Colorado, is to not only collect 65,000 pounds of food, $40,000 in monetary donations and to get 150 organizations registered to compete. It is also to raise awareness of hunger in Larimer County, Martens said .

The event is organized each year by the office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE).

The five-week food drive will culminate Oct. 17 when all the collected food cans will be weighed, donations collected and points tallied at CSU’s iconic Oval. The cans will be placed around the Oval, creating a visually stunning image of the size and scope of the food drive.

Thursday, Sept. 13 will be Distribution Day in the Lory Student Center, where participating groups will receive boxes, posters, fliers and canvassing information from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Collection bins will be set up in LSC throughout the month for individuals wishing to donate during the next five weeks.

According the Food Bank for Larimer County, almost one in six Americans struggle with hunger. One in five children don’t get enough to eat every day.

“The Food Bank for Larimer County serves almost 14,000 people per-month through our food share program. The need for our services is increasing every single month,” said Food Bank  volunteer and development coordinator Susan Kelly. “We get food from a lot of different sources, but Cans Around the Oval is a huge food drive that helps us tremendously.”

Martens said she has spent the last few weeks getting organizations on campus registered to compete. CSU students, faculty and staff, as well as local schools, businesses and community groups can all participate. The team with the most points wins and each pound of food collected is worth one point, while every dollar is worth four points.

Food collections can be hard to distribute, while food banks have high need items that can be purchased with money in bulk, Martens said. She estimated that one dollar can buy four pounds of food.

Last year, CSU’s College of Business collected almost 30 percent of total donations.

Chris Feller, a junior management and finance major and student organizer, said there was “a lot of healthy competition” between the departments in the business college. Students were canvassing neighborhoods and posting up in front of grocery stores to collect donations.

“I think CSU students and people in Fort Collins and Larimer County have so much going for them,” Feller said. “This gives them a chance to give back to those less fortunate in our area.”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.