By Hunter Carson, American Farm Bureau intern
The University of Florida Collegiate Farm Bureau set out to tackle hunger in 2023 by hosting a canned food drive, but with a blue and orange Gator twist! Since 2020, the UF Collegiate Farm Bureau has partnered with the University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and Sigma Alpha sorority to host the annual philanthropy event, ExtravaCANza.
The event, created to help combat food insecurity on UF’s campus, takes a creative approach to the traditional canned food drive by hosting a canned food sculpture contest. University of Florida CALS organizations were encouraged to participate by “CANstructing” their own artistic sculpture. Forging sculptures out of common household objects like rubber bands, tape, paper and, of course, canned goods, participants created artistic interpretations of scenes such as a football stadium or a tractor during harvest.
The UF Collegiate Farm Bureau utilized a grant through the American Farm Bureau Federation Collegiate Farm Bureau Mini-Grant program to purchase all event supplies, including over 500 pounds of canned goods. All event contributions were donated to the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry, which provides nutritious food to UF students, faculty and staff in need.
The event brought together 50 people from across the University of Florida’s campus, involved 10 CALS organizations, 40 students, and university faculty, and helped feed countless individuals in the campus community.
The University of Florida Collegiate Farm Bureau hopes to double the participation next year and feed even more people.
Dr. Charlotte Emerson, UF Collegiate Farm Bureau advisor, shared advice for others considering an event like this: “Other programs that want to implement this idea should seek partnerships with their college administrators and others. Not only does it make it more fun, but it also helps raise more awareness to the issue of local food insecurity. This event helped educate participants about food insecurity on our campus and led to other clubs and organizations creating projects that donated to the food pantry.”
When asked how utilizing a Collegiate Farm Bureau Mini-Grant contributed to UF’s success, Dr. Emerson explained that the financial support boosted participation and increased the amount of food donated.
“With this mini-grant, we were able to purchase over 500 pounds of cans that were used for the event, and all were donated to the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry. Purchasing the canned food increased participation in this event because clubs and organizations did not have to use their own funds to provide cans. In previous years, having to purchase cans deterred some clubs and organizations from participating in the event. By utilizing this mini-grant, UF Collegiate Farm Bureau was able to make a positive impact on our local community by addressing food insecurity on our campus.”
Collegiate Farm Bureau Mini-Grant Program
The 2023-2024 AFBF Collegiate Farm Bureau Mini-Grant program is now open for applications. For more information about the program, including how to apply, visitor email
Hunter Carson was a summer 2023 intern in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Leadership, Education & Engagement Department. He is a senior at Oklahoma State University.