Cans Around the Oval donates 275,000 meals to fight food insecurity

Natalia Sperry

Colorado State University’s hallmark fundraiser Cans Around the Oval gathered 42,293 pounds of food and raised $56,349 in additional funds, resulting in a total impact of 324,038 pounds of nonperishable food items.

The office of Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement hosts the event, which is celebrating its 31st year at the University. SLiCE reported that it collected  similar totals to last year with an increase of 623 pounds of food gathered and a total impact just shy of that collected in 2016 of 330,244 pounds.

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cans stacked on top of each other
CANstruction, an event that is apart of the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement’s CANS Around the Oval Event, allows participants who have collected cans to create whatever kind of architecture they desire and to show off the cans they’ve collected. The cans, being donated on Oct. 18th, go to the Larimer County Food Bank and helps raise awareness of hunger in the area. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

In addition to nonperishable food items, the fundraiser accepts monetary donations, with $1 being equated to five pounds of food in SLiCE’s final calculations.

“We are so pleased with the turnout,” said Loren Courtney, special events coordinator at SLiCE. “It warms my heart every day to think about all of the people in our community that will benefit from the food and monetary donations that were raised for the Food Bank of Larimer County.”

Cans Around the Oval also functions as a sort of campus competition. The top three overall donors were the College of Business, with a total impact of 93,014 pounds of food, the Office of the Vice President for Research, with 52,704 pounds and Rocky Mountain High School with 26,650 pounds.

Any student, group and organization can participate in the event, either by donating, collecting donations or volunteering. Although it is a CSU event, the fundraiser is open to the entire Larimer County community.

“Being able to work with our community to support those who are struggling with food insecurity was the most humbling and fulfilling experience I have ever had, and I will never forget it,” Courtney said.

Cans Around the Oval is Larimer County’s largest single-day food drive and benefits the Food Bank for Larimer County, according to SLiCE.

The number of meals produced by the cash and food donations equals about 275,000 meals according to Paul Donnelly, communications manager at the Food Bank for Larimer County.

Donnelly said the Food Bank distributes the donations in a variety of ways, such as Food Link.

“Through Food Link, we partner with more than 85 local agencies,” Donnelly said. “Since the vast majority of those agencies do not have cooler space to store a lot of meat, produce, cheese, milk, et cetera, … canned goods like the ones collected at Cans are perfect. They have a longer shelf life, are easily transported and do not require refrigeration.”

Donnelly said that most of the donations from Cans Around the Oval will go to local agencies once the items have been inspected and sorted. Additionally, a portion will end up in the Larimer County Food Share program’s fresh food pantries.

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“We are always so grateful for any donation we receive at the Food Bank, but we truly value the relationships we have with organizations like CSU,” Donnelly said. “It is a great community partnership that we look forward to each year. A big thank you to all the students, staff members and volunteers who make it a reality.”

Collegian reporter Natalia Sperry can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Natalia_Sperry.