550 Forest Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, ME 04101 info@uwsme.org 207-874-1000

Food Drive + Can Sculpture Contest


Video of 2022 Food Drive and Can Sculpture Event

You and your workplace CAN make a difference for neighbors at United Way of Southern Maine’s FOOD DRIVE AND CAN SCULPTURE CONTEST on Friday, September 16!

With fun and accessible ways to participate, anyone can join the fun safely and easily while addressing hunger across the region. Donations will be distributed across Southern Maine through Wayside Food Programs and Youth Full Maine.


We need your help. Help pick the best can structure and winner of the “Community Choice Award” trophy. Visit uwsme.org/cancontest to see the structures and vote on a winner. Voting starts a little after noon on Friday and closes Monday at 4 PM.


Host a collection drive at your office to deliver together or encourage your team to drive through on their own. Anyone can easily drive up and drop off canned food, non-perishables, and diapers at our drive-thru food drive at Wayside Food Programs (135 Walton St, Portland, ME 04103) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, September 16.


For those of you looking to have a little extra fun, join us starting at 8 a.m. in Wayside Food Programs’ parking lot (135 Walton St, Portland, ME 04103) to create a work of canned food art. We will have prizes in several categories, including the coveted community choice award. For those unable to join in person, contact UWSM for alternate arrangements.


  • Building and creating a sculpture is a fun engagement tool for your team – all while demonstrating the importance of your United Way campaign and combating food insecurity in our community!
  • It’s a contest, too, and a little competition is food for the soul!
  • Help fill a need and stock the shelves of food pantries in southern Maine. 


We know you’re not doing this for the glory, but this is hard work! We’ll celebrate with a few awards selected by a virtual judging panel and our community.

  • Most Hopeful: Best interpretation or interpretation of our 2022 campaign theme – Hopeful for a thriving Southern Maine.
  • Small + Mighty Award: Judges will select the best sculpture CANstructed by a small business (employee size up to 99).
  • Rookie Award: Judges will select the best sculpture assembled by a new team (1st or 2nd year).
  • Best Meal Award: Judges will review sculptures for ingredients that would make the best well-balanced, healthy meal.
  • Best in Show: Judges will select the best in show based on the design (originality and creativity), craft (balance, proportions, detail, and use of space), and amount of food collected.
  • Community Choice Award: Attendees will cast electronic votes between Friday and Monday.

NOTE: Organizations are eligible for only one award (with the exception of the Community Choice Award).


Below you will find the can structural rules to make your can-building experience straightforward and fun. We invite organizations and businesses large and small to create their works of art in support of our community and food insecurity across Southern Maine. Please reach out to info@uwsme.org with any questions or inquiries related to your sculpture. 

  1. Build any kind of structure — from the simple to the ornate!
  2. Teams may use props, including signage and supporting materials, but structures must be comprised of at least 50% food items and/or basic needs items. A platform is suggested.
  3. Sculptures must fit within an 8’X8’ FOOT space unless otherwise requested.
  4. Collected items cannot be painted, taped, or otherwise altered in a way that makes them unsuitable for donation. You may cover food items with paper as long as it’s taped to itself and removed by your team after the event.
  5. Teams may construct sculptures starting at 8:00 on September 16.
  6. Track and share the following:
    • # of volunteers to create
    • # of materials used, e.g. cinder blocks, plywood, tape, etc.
    • # of items collected, e.g. 2,000 cans of tuna, 16 jars of peanut butter
    • Sculpture Name
    • Description
    • How your creation relates to our campaign theme – Hopeful for a thriving Southern Maine.


Check out photos from past events:  2021, 2020, 2019, 20182017


  1. Register your team below or by emailing info@uwsme.org.
  2. Gather your most creative team and design your entry.
  3. Let your employees know what food items and quantities you will need and do a “trial run.”
  4. Have a blast constructing your sculpture!