Canstruction collaboration inspires community action

Hunger Action Month

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Food shouldn’t be an impossible choice, but those difficult decisions continue to grow as we head into a time of year local organizations say is especially challenging for families.

Putting a spotlight on hunger and food insecurity one can at a time, Canstruction, a nationwide exhibition, uses innovation and creativity to inspire action.

“It’s about giving back to people that don’t have a lot and to me that’s what we are all here for,” Zenos Morris, the project manager for Court Atkins Architects, explained.

Morris led one of the four architectural and construction firms that competed in Savannah’s hunger relief event. Sponsored by the Telfair Museums and CHOATE Construction, all proceeds from the competition went to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia.

“Construction really embodies the idea of teamwork: everybody collaborating to solve such an important issue,” CHOATE Construction Division Manager Kirk Gilbert said.

Mary Jane Crouch, the executive director for America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, said the food bank is heading into the busiest time of the year. From October through December, the food bank sees its highest uptick in community need, with expectation for this year to be consistent.

“We had a high poverty rate before the pandemic, so you can still imagine that there’s still a lot of people out of a work,” Crouch said. “A lot of people have depleted savings accounts, maxed out credit cards, and you know to look at what Thanksgiving or Christmas is going to cost them to go out and buy for their families. A lot of families just can’t do that. A lot of seniors can’t do that.”

She said food costs are up 15 percent, with some communities seeing even higher percentages.

“Due to the pandemic, having to be laid off from their jobs, or isolated in different ways, people may have gone to the food bank for the very first time ever where they never had before,” Lisa Pinyan, the principal manager for LS3P, said, standing in front of her team’s Canstruction display.

Gilbert said anyone looking at the four structures displayed throughout the Jepson Center would be inspired to act.

“Thomas & Hutton, LS3P, Court Atkins, and SCAD have been designing, planning, gathering supplies and getting donations from the community,” Gilbert said. “A lot of effort has gone into just creating the concepts.”

“The challenge for the Canstruction was to come up with an idea that would speak to what everybody’s going through right now. So we decided to come up with the idea of ‘connected,’ and how we stayed ‘connected’ during the pandemic,” Morris said about their computer structure displaying faces on the screen made out of color-schemed cans.

The screen was just one of the creations, in addition to a massive ship in the Savannah port, a bumble ready to take flight, and a large can tower. Each one visually embodying our shared experiences during the pandemic and bringing to light the challenges some continue to face.

“There’s a real need for a sense of community, a sense of citizenship that we are all in this together. And what is the most basic aspect of being a human being? It’s being able to feed yourself and your family,” Telfair Museums Executive Director Benjamin Simons explained.

The teams said just like each structure started with a single can, every movement starts with a single person.

“One can, one good intention, one action at a time,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson encouraged, adding his hope that no person ever has to feel the pains of hunger. “Whatever you can do, no amount is too small. The family that you’re feeding might be you tomorrow.”

Morris said his hope is for more people to devote a little more time each day to help those in need.

“This world is tough enough to deal with, we just need to give back more.”

Second Harvest needs volunteers to host food drives. Visit here to find out how to get started. You can offer a monetary donation through this link.

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