“I like to give back to my community,” Madsen said. “And it gives me a chance to come out and design something, and that is what I do.”
Eighteen teams gathered at TMCC and built their creative can creations using non-perishable food items that would be donated to the Food Bank at the end of the competition. Food Bank representatives said that the collection goal was 40,000 pounds of food, the same goal that they set for last year’s competition.
“The first year (the competitors) weren’t as ambitious,” said Bill Kolton, events coordinator for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. He added that each year since the competition’s beginning in 2003, the creations have become more grand.
Most of the structures were 8 feet high and, according to the competition rules, could only spread 10 feet across the floor. Awards were presented Thursday in the categories of best meal, best use of labels, best structural ingenuity, judge’s favorite as well as two honorable mention categories.
“The hungry people really win,” Kolton said. “All (the competitors) get is a trophy.”
Madsen and his team got the inspiration for their can structure from the centennial lighthouse at the Sparks Marina, which is still in development.
“We helped do some of the design work for the lighthouse,” Madsen said. “The lighthouse is used as a symbol of hope and vision and that is what the food bank is all about.”
Representatives from the food bank shared their excitement Wednesday as the cans continued to roll in and the structures began to grow taller.
“With the downturn in the economy more people are hungry,” Kolton said. “We collected a quarter of a million pounds during our holiday food drive. That usually lasts us until May but it was all gone in February this year. The need is up and the donations are down.”
Elizabeth Manha, a fourth-grade competitor from Jerry Whitehead Elementary School, tugged on her mother Martha’s shirt and asked when she could go hungry for a day.
“She has never had to go hungry and this is making her think about what it might be like,” Martha said. “She wanted to try it today, but with everything going on we didn’t think that was a good idea.”
Elizabeth was a part of the fourth-and-fifth grade team from Whitehead Elementary that designed and built a rounded UFO entirely out of canned foods.
“We looked at a lot of designs,” Diana Garrity, a teacher from Whitehead Elementary said as she helped students with the project. “We talked about feasibility and even though it was a little tougher, they wanted to do the UFO.”
Along with feasibility, Garrity used the project to teach the children teamwork, camaraderie and some “very cool practical math.”
“We have done a lot of geometry,” Garrity said. “We also did cost comparisons and looked at what kinds of cans are the best bang for your buck.”
The students spent Wednesday stacking cans, one atop another, according to a detailed blueprint that was taped onto the wall behind them.
Besides the geometry and physics that the students learned in preparation for the project, Garrity said that the students also had to choose building materials that they thought people would enjoy receiving from the food bank.
“Since this was for the food bank we had them think about what food they might not normally get there,” Garrity said.
Best Meal: "The Great Food Pyramid and the River Nile" by Hershenow + Klippenstein Architects
Best Use of Labels: "We CAN Draw You Away From Hunger" by Carson High School AutoCAD Team #1, "HurriCAN"
Structural Ingenuity: "Looks Funny, Saves Money" by Sierra Pacific Power Company
Jurors Favorite: "The Power of Cake" by The Glenn Group
Honorable Mention 1: "Taking a Shot at Solving Hunger" by Carson High AutoCAD Team #2, "Master Drafters"
Honorable Mention 2: "The Hunter Lake DraCAN" by the Hunter Lake Elementary Fifth Grade Dragons
People's Choice: "Bonafide, CANafide, Glorified Gameboy" by Northern Nevadans Escaping Ration Deprivation, TMCC Team #1