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In Our Community

Local Students Support Food Security through Canstructure Event

28 Mar 2024

Access to affordable food is crucial for a healthy community. Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading’s Canstructure event is an annual competition that aims to fight hunger by challenging youth to build structures made from cans of food. This year, the competition theme was “Around the World” and 15 teams of Berks County youth participated.

Each team is responsible for holding its own food drive prior to the event to collect the cans for its structure. All canned food is donated to the Helping Harvest Food Bank following the competition.

In addition to holding a food drive, students were required to use STEM skills to properly engineer and design their structures. Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading partnered with Penn State Berks engineering students to provide virtual STEM education and building support videos.

After the structures were built, the teams created video presentations explaining what their structure represents, how they designed it, and how it relates to the theme. The videos also included statistics on food scarcity and hunger issues that affect our community. Structures were judged on Best Original Design, Best Use of STEM Concepts, Heaviest Donation, People’s Choice, and more. Click here to view the structures from this year’s competition.

UGI Utilities employee stands in front of airplane sculpture made out of canned food.
Lori Hoffman participated as a judge during this year’s competition. The structure shown is from the Hunger Fighters team at Wilson High School.

Lori Hoffman, UGI Utilities’ Sr Community Relations Program Administrator for the East Region, participated as a judge during this year’s competition. “I love volunteering as a judge for Canstructure,” Lori said. “This event is so unique that it brings together STEM, teamwork, and fighting hunger all into one event. The teams all do a fantastic job and should be proud of their efforts!”

The week following the competition, the students participated in the De-Canstructure event where they deconstructed their structures and helped to sort the canned goods for Helping Harvest. The heaviest donation came from the Hunger Fighters at Wilson High School, whose structure weighed in at 5,050 pounds of canned items. The total weight for this year’s event is still being tallied, but last year nearly 11,000 pounds of food were donated.

UGI Utilities is proud of our employees, such as Lori, who get involved in their communities to support food security and local students. Thank you to Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading and all students who participated in this event to fight hunger!