CANstruction Contest Stocks New Food Market Shelves


Sophia Primera/San Jacinto Times

Keeping with this year’s superhero theme, the OCT South team built Stark Tower as their submission in the canned food competition on the South Campus.

Anyone can be a superhero at San Jacinto College, thanks to the College’s annual CANstruction contest that took place on the three academic campuses between Nov. 4 and Nov. 8.

CANstruction is a food drive competition sponsored by the offices of Student Engagement and Activities (SEA) that benefits the Food Market, a College-wide program committed to providing food for San Jac students facing food insecurity. The Food Market offers enrolled students the opportunity to self-select up to 30lbs of perishable and non-perishable items each week. 

Before the Food Market, the College had a similar program called the Food Pantry. However, donations solely came from the College community, and applicants received pre-packed disbursements instead of choosing their own foodstuffs. In September, the College partnered with the Houston Food Bank to receive weekly shipments ensuring the markets are fully equipped to satisfy the growing demand.

The South Campus SEA Administrative Assistant, Ginnette Ruelas, assists students with participating in the program. She said finances are a concern for most college students so the Food Market alleviates some of the financial burden, allowing them to focus on completing their degrees.

“We want them to feel welcome at our college no matter their situation,” she said.

Meanwhile, this year’s South Campus CANstruction competition included six teams of eight to 10 students tasked with collecting canned donations and using those cans to build a structure, over a week, based on the current theme. This year’s College-wide theme centered on superheroes. Afterward, the creations on all campuses were dismantled, and the canned food went to stock the shelves of the Food Markets.

South Campus SEA Specialist Samantha Martinez said the theme came about when the organizers noticed quite a few popular superhero movies were released over the past year.

“We thought it might be fun to see what structures students could make from the different characters they may know and love,” she added.

The constructions on the South Campus included Stark Tower, from Iron Man fame, Captain America’s shield, and a Green Lantern symbol, among others. To build the structures, the teams used colored cans that aligned with their ideas. Participants used canned vegetables for green and canned beans for blue, while canned root beer worked for brown.

The completed products were on display on each campus where students, staff, and faculty viewed the structures and voted for their favorite CANstruction creation in five categories.

In addition to the proceeds from CANstruction and donations from the Houston Food Bank, Martinez said the Food Markets accept donations year-round on every San Jac campus. She noted they are always in need of vegetables, soup, canned fruit, peanut butter, jelly, chili, stew, and ravioli.

Likewise, Kevin Rosales Flores, a student helping with the contest, said in addition to a fun activity, the event shines a spotlight on the new program.

“The CANstruction competition helps get the word out to the whole school about the Food Market,” he said, “and it also brings a variety of goods to the market.”

Winners of the CANstruction contest are North Campus – Jurors Favorite: A FORCE; SJC Choice: Galena Park CTE Early College High School; Creative Design: A1 Tech Labs; Social Media: No winner; Structural Ingenuity: No winner. Central Campus – Jurors Favorite: District Soup-a-Stars; SJC Choice: Admissions Avengers; Creative Design: District Soup-a-Stars; Social Media: Admissions Avengers; Structural Ingenuity: District Soup-a-Stars; South Campus – All categories: Orientation and Campus Tours.

Further information about the Food Market is available at