My mother used to tell me never to play with food.
She should have seen dozens of people using canned food to build structures of all sorts of shapes last night at the SeaGate Centre in downtown Toledo.
They were visibly enjoying themselves.
But what they were doing wasn't just for fun. Sponsored by the International Interior Design Association, the event, which brought in 10,500 pounds of food last year, will benefit the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank and help feed the hungry through the holiday season.
"It's nice to be able to do something for the hungry," said Mary Frost, 27, captain of one of the nine competing teams of five to seven people each.
Ms. Frost, an IIDA member who is a showroom manager and interior designer for Akron-based Famous Supply Co., and her six teammates had just finished putting together their creation - what they called a Beta vase, a vase that in real life would serve as a home for a live fish.
Made of scores of cans, some filled with jellied cranberry sauce and others with chunk tuna, the creation contained about $500 worth of food.
The team expects to win in the Structural Ingenuity category, one of six in the competition. The others are Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, People's Choice, Jurors' Favorite, and Honorable Mention.
Participants, who were mainly students and business employees from northwest Ohio, were careful not to drop the items they were handling. Should any be dropped and dented, it would be up to the food bank to decide whether to discard them, organizers said.
The entries will be judged today. Slides of the winners will be sent to New York City, where they will be judged in February in a national competition of between 40 and 50 regional groups, said Cara Hinkle, IIDA's membership board chairman.