CHARITY

Canstruction attracts amateur sculptors in support of Feed Nova Scotia

Food, fundraising event underway at Mic Mac Mall

Finishing touches to a spaghetti-and-tuna R2D2.
Finishing touches to a spaghetti-and-tuna R2-D2.   Sophie Allen-Barron

In Mic Mac Mall’s Bay court, groups of Nova Scotians have gathered to sculpt and display their fanciful and free-standing creations.

These aren’t made of sand. Instead, they’re canned.

This is Canstruction’s 11th annual event in the province. The design and building competition raises money for Feed Nova Scotia through sponsors and donations from the public.  And when the sculptures come down, they get the food too.

Last year’s event raised around $23,000, and about as many cans of food. Jan Hall, Feed Nova Scotia’s development manager, says they’ll likely see the same amount this year, but it’s too early to tell.

The 12 participating teams spent Wednesday morning setting up. Caitlin Smithers and the rest of the team from Halifax’s First Baptist Church arrived at 8 a.m. and were putting the finishing touches on their R2-D2 (a robot from Star Wars) sculpture at around 1 p.m.

“It’s just professional tweaks at this point,” Smithers said.

Caitlin Smithers (left) and the rest of First Baptist Church's Canstruction team.
Caitlin Smithers (left) and the rest of First Baptist Church’s Canstruction team.   Sophie Allen-Barron

With hundreds of cans to arrange — R2 took 1,144 — teams will often do a practice build before arriving at the site. Smithers said their cans arrived later than they thought, so Thursday’s assembly was their first crack at it.

The church group asked First Baptist’s congregation for donations of canned food for building materials, or to donate money. Smithers said the community really came through, providing the roughly $3,000 they needed to purchase tins of tuna and spaghetti.

Depending on how they stack up, some of the Nova Scotian teams could go on to the international Canstruction competition. Sculptures are judged anonymously in five categories:

  • Best use of labels
  • Structural ingenuity
  • Best meal
  • Honourable mention
  • Jurors’ favourite

Smithers said the team’s goal wasn’t just to win a prize.

“We loved the idea that you could get together and be creative and have fun, and that the food goes to a great cause.”

Last year, Feed Nova Scotia distributed over 1.9-million kilograms of food to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters across the province. In March 2015, nearly 20,000 Nova Scotians were reported to have used food banks.

Statistics Canada numbers from 2011-2012 show that 11.9 per cent of Nova Scotian households reported food insecurity, or inadequate access to food due to financial constraints. That’s compared to 8.3 per cent in all of Canada.

The canstructions will be displayed at Mic Mac Mall until March 5.