C.A.N.S. Around The Oval

C.A.N.S. Around The Oval is a 34-year-old CSU tradition, occurring mid-September to mid-October, and is geared toward raising awareness about food insecurity and collecting donations for the Food Bank for Larimer County.  The food bank not only serves the county at-large but our local campus community via the Rams Against Hunger program. To enhance the quality and quantity of food and better meet community needs, C.A.N.S. or “cash and nutritious staples” (including online monetary donations and healthy, non-perishable food items) are now asked from donors rather than only canned food.  CANtributions come through solo acts of kindness and collective team efforts as part of the Friendly-Competition.  In 2020, C.A.N.S. Around The Oval transformed into a virtual, remote, and physically distanced version of itself, which allowed participants to still engage in a school tradition, positively impact their community, feel connected to something greater, and gain a more holistic understanding of hunger-relief resources.  There were multiple ways to creatively, collaboratively, and consciously “CANtribute” to help relieve food insecurity for fellow Rams and our local Northern Colorado neighbors.  Read on to learn more about them!

Thank you, CANtributors! This year, in 2020, we reached a new record of $71,271 donated (doubling to 142,542 meals) and collected 4,693 pounds of food!

Learn More about C.A.N.S.

Celebrating C.A.N.S. 2020

All of the 2020 record-breaking results, CANtributing team rankings, and various forms of recognition can be found here.

Hunger Awareness

Current facts, figures, and narratives of food insecurity and hunger on campus, in Larimer County, nationally, and globally. Plus, World Food Day 2020 information.

C.A.N.S. History

This CSU tradition began with the vision of one CSU Ram and has evolved over the last 34 years through collaboration between the Food Bank for Larimer County and SLiCE!

Frequently Asked Questions

What were 2020's original "CANpaign" goals?

  • Raise At Least $34,000 Online (for the 34th year of C.A.N.S. Around the Oval)
  • Collect At Least 8,000 Pounds of Food (one week’s worth of distribution at CSU’s Food Pantry)
  • Spread Awareness About the Current Hunger Trends with our fellow Ram Community and Beyond!

Who tends to CANtribute/participate?

Anyone! Typically:

  • CSU Colleges/Departments (i.e. College of Agricultural Sciences, History Department, Vice President for Research)
  • CSU Student Groups (i.e. student organization, advisory council, residence hall floor, etc.)
  • Community Groups (i.e. local businesses, non-profits, governmental-based organizations, faith-based community organizations, family/friends of CSU)
  • Local Schools (i.e. K-12, Poudre School District, charter schools, home schools)
  • Individuals: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members

What were the important dates and deadlines for C.A.N.S. 2020?

  • Wednesday, September 16, 2020: C.A.N.S. Around the Oval 2020, kicked off!
  • Wednesday, October 7, 2020: We hosted our “Coffee and CANversations” table in The LSC Plaza (10:00am – 3:30pm).
  • Monday, October 12 – Friday, October 16: World Food Week
    • “CANversations Around Food” –  SLiCE hosted five thematic, educational talks starting at 11:00am each day of World Food Week.
    • Designated Off-Campus Food Donation Drop-Off Window
      • Tuesday, October 13: (8:30am – 3:30pm) at the Food Bank’s Wright Dr. location in Loveland.
    • Designated On-Campus Food Donation Drop-Off Windows:
      • Wednesday, October 14: (4:00pm – 7:00pm) at the LSC Theater during the Mobile Food Pantry.
      • Thursday, October 15: (4:00pm – 7:00pm) at the LSC Theater during the Mobile Food Pantry.
      • Friday, October 16: (9:00am – 12:00pm) at the LSC Theater during the Mobile Food Pantry.
    • Friday October, 16: all final online donations on World Food Day were to be submitted no later than 5:00pm [MST].

What were some creative, collaborative, and conscious ways to CANtribute virtually? While physically distanced?

These were some of SLiCE’s suggestions for how to be creative, collaborative, and conscious when CANtributing to C.A.N.S Around The Oval 2020, while being virtual and physically distanced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Generally speaking, SLiCE encouraged:

  • Giving Monetary Donations
  • Giving Nutritious Pantry Staples
  • Competing in the Friendly-Competition + Team Challenges
  • Volunteering with the Food Bank for Larimer County (which you still can!)
  • Spreading Awareness about the Cause via Public Art and Social Media
  • Educating Yourself About Local Hunger and World Food Day

More specifically, SLiCE suggested these ideas to help make these above options easier.

  • Awareness vs. Asks: best to be sensitive with your asks for donations and instead consider spreading awareness of the cause or your mini-food/fund drive and use language like “if able/interested in donating” afterward.
  • Bring Back the QR Code: use for your donation link and physically distanced marketing.
  • Chalk It Up: Educate others and direct them to donate online by referencing the simple “cans.colostate.edu” website.  Share local hunger and World Food Day facts and figures, and use compelling/considerate images to make a positive public art statement.  Be mindful of chalking policies in public places and the chalking etiquette within your neighborhood.  If chalking at CSU, be sure you are chalking only in the Lory Student Center Plaza, at least 15 feet away from any building entrances, only on the horizontal concrete ground, and only with washable chalk.
  • Donation Match: find willing internal/external donors to match the total amount you/your team can collect to broaden your reach.
  • Go Beyond Email Communications: text, call, send snail mail, or use social apps like WhatsApp or GroupMe for more immediate connections.
  • Promote School Pride: encourage folks to donate an amount that reflects their graduation year (i.e. 2020 = $200.20, $20.20, $2.02).
  • Round-Up! be sensitive to businesses during COVID, particularly small, local businesses if pursuing this route.  Yet, this is an initiative where customers are asked to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to give to C.A.N.S. Around The Oval, and whatever they give extra is tracked, and eventually, all round-ups are donated online.
  • Strategize with SLiCE: the Service Liaison Team welcomes any CANtributors to reach out via email and set up a time to virtually chat and talk through your ideas or clarify any of ours. Please contact us to get started.
  • Table in the LSC Plaza: if a CSU-based team, spread awareness about how C.A.N.S. Around The Oval aligns with your team’s mission/values and promote your own department/organization while you are at it.  Do so in creative, thoughtful, and physically distanced ways – perhaps with a QR code linked to the cans.colostate.edu website.  No food or fund transactions of cans, cash, coin, or check can occur in The LSC Plaza.  To reserve a table in the Plaza, do so online through Event Planning Services.
  • Use Fast, Safe, Contact-Free Finance Apps: to collect donations from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, club members, teammates, etc. before submitting the full amount on the C.A.N.S. Around the Oval online donation portal (i.e. Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, Wix).
  • Utilize Social Media: educate yourself and others about local hunger and World Food Day; promote beyond your current/local connections, share your own story related to the cause or highlight featured articles and narratives found here, and add this year’s specific hashtags.  Thank any who donate!
    • 2020 hashtags: #TogetherWeCANS2020 (always use), or #DoSomethingCSU and #WorldFoodDay (if interested)
    • Follow SLiCE’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

What was this year's points-based C.A.N.S. Friendly-Competition?

Teams could compete internally, externally, and overall.  Teams could challenge their coworkers, school rivals, and/or friends while trying to raise the most funds and give the most food – and enjoy the friendly competition along the way.  Teams consisted of 2 or more people.  Registered teams competed with all other registered teams, and within their own category.  The four categories this year were: CSU Colleges/Departments, CSU Student Groups, Community Groups, and Local Schools.  Teams chose their category and any optional team challenges they wanted to pursue in their registration form.

C.A.N.S. Friendly-Competition Point System

  • 1 point = per social media “like” on a C.A.N.S. Around The Oval post made by a team member (on either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter [had to use #TogetherWeCANS2020 and Team Name to be assigned points] and was confined to public posts made between September 16 – October 16, 2020)
  • 5 points = per pound of food donated (during World Food Week: October 12 – October 16)
  • 10 points = per dollar donated (whether cash, coin, check, or ideally online)
  • 25 points = per team member who attended a “CANversation Around Food” – the Zoom sessions during World Food Week. (Attendance was tracked and counted for those who attended the whole CANversation in real-time.  There was no limit on the number of attendees per team.)
  • 100 points = per team that opted into and competed in the Team-Versus-Team Challenge. (100 points was added to each team’s total per team they actively and intentionally chose to compete against, as long as each team did end up donating a least one dollar or one pound of food.  Ideally, much more than the bare minimum was donated, as this challenge was meant to promote, compete, collaborate, and increase CANtributions all around.  If one team did not donate, then all teams did not receive these points. It was all or nothing.  There was no limit to the number of teams to compete against.  Example: if 4 teams challenged each other, each team got 400 points.)

What were the optional Team Challenges?

There are two optional challenges teams could pursue this year to add even more fun, creativity, and collaboration to their team’s strategy as they participated in C.A.N.S. Around The Oval.  The options are the:

  • Sub-Team Challenge: A team could opt-in by dividing into smaller sub-teams and competing against one-another first, before combining all donations together.  Teams who pursued this option likely offered mini-food/fund drives for teammates and challenged their coworkers, committee members, different grades, or fellow departments all within the umbrella of their larger organization.  Sub-Teams had their own online donation portals, so an online donation internal competition could occur throughout the larger team and be tracked and go toward the overall team’s results.  More details and suggestions for how teams could go about this challenge were shared once a team registered. (Example: SLiCE – Involvement; SLiCE – Community Engagement, and SLiCE – Student Leadership could have an internal online competition first, but all online donations would have been reported out as “SLiCE.”)
  • Team-Versus-Team Challenge: teams could have opted-in to challenge other teams and compete against one another for bragging rights.  Teams that competed against one another could have been floors within the same building, campus partners/neighboring departments, comparable-size organizations, rivalry schools, etc.  Teams that actively and intentionally chose to compete against one-another chose the terms of their challenge, i.e. winner of most points, largest total of donated funds, heaviest pound donations, etc.  More details and suggestions for how to go about this challenge were shared once a team registered.

Was it better to donate funds or food?

Dollars sure make a difference, since every $1 donated equals 2 meals of food that CAN be provided to Food Bank for Larimer County clients.  But, each year, donated food from C.A.N.S. Around The Oval provides variety to the other food offerings at the CSU’s Food Pantry and the Food Bank for Larimer County’s other food share programs.  So both are great!  If you gave food this year, we thank you for your generosity of providing nourishing and nutritous foods!

What were the most desirable foods? What foods were not accepted?

For those who were able and interested in donating nutritious staples, we encouraged donations of peanut butter, beans, pasta and rice – as they are favorites at CSU’s Food Pantry.  The Food Bank for Larimer County additionally seeks canned proteins, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, and cereal.  Practically all food items were accepted, except the following: food in glass jars, frozen foods, home-canned foods, perishable food and foods that have been previously served or heated.

Where does the food go after being donated?

All food donated to C.A.N.S. Around The Oval goes to either the Food Bank for Larimer County directly and to one of its food share programs on CSU’s campus – CSU (not-so) Mobile Food Pantry, part of SLiCE’s Rams Against Hunger multi-faceted program.  The food bank’s mission is to provide food to all in need through community partnerships and hunger-relief programs.  They are a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank and food rescue network, and are the only Feeding America clearinghouse for donated food in Larimer County.

To learn more about how the food bank works and the pathway of how food is received, safely stored, and distributed, click here.

How can I get a tax receipt for my donation?

Thank you to all who financially donated!  For every $1 donated, the Food Bank can tranform that donation into two meals.  Thus, dollars sure made a difference!  Whether you donated cash, coin, check, or online – all donors would have received a receipt from SLiCE or the Food Bank for Larimer County for tracking purposes. All donations to the Food Bank for Larimer County are tax-deductible as provided by law.  No goods or services will be returned to the donor in exchange for their donation.  Since all proceeds from C.A.N.S. Around The Oval go directly to the Food Bank for Larimer County, they handle the issuing of these receipts, not SLiCE.


Depending on your donation type, the process and timeline to receive a tax receipt can differ.  All online donors should have immediately received an email receipt a few minutes after submitting their donation online from the Food Bank for Larimer County.  Donors who made cash, check, coin, or food donations and wanted a tax receipt from the Food Bank for Larimer County, were asked for additional information by SLiCE staff to be shared with the food bank after the 30-day-long food/fund drive ended.  This process will take some time, and all donors who wanted to go this route will receive information via email.

When and how were results shared?

In the week after C.A.N.S. Around the Oval, the small but mighty Service Liaison Team carefully and thoroughly totaled up all CANtributions, to eventually report out: overall totals, totals by category, and totals by team.  The comprehensive process entailed tracking all funds donated online and in-person, all pounds of food donated in-person, the attendance numbers at each “CANversation Around Food” session by teammates, and all “likes” on public social media posts by competing teams using the #TogetherWeCANS2020 hashtag.  By October 26, 2020, SLiCE began releasing all results, ranking, and recognition throughout various communications across campus and throughout Northern Colorado.

Who can I contact for questions about C.A.N.S. Around the Oval 2020?

Please contact SLiCE’s Senior Program Coordinator of Community Engagement, Sarah Stephens.