DOT Employees Build Castles With Canned Food Donations

By Susan Jones | August 5, 2011 | 8:15 AM EDT

One of the food "castles" built by employees of DOT's Federal Highway Administration included a portrait of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. (Photo from DOT blog)

( - Employees at the U.S. Department of Transportation are not only collecting canned food for the needy -- they're playing with it, too.

As part of the third annual "Feds Feed Families" food drive, the DOT said it hopes to collect at least 58,100 pounds of food to donate to food pantries and shelters in the Washington area.

This year, said the DOT blog, "We’ve raised the stakes by hosting an exciting intra-agency competition to see which agency can collect the most food.

"And it doesn’t stop there. Last week, we held our annual Can Castle Competition, where teams from each DOT agency have three hours to build the most creative structure using donated food."

One of the "castles" pictured on the Web site includes a portrait of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

This year’s winner, built by a team from DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration, used 6,000 food items to portray train tracks running through a canned-corn landscape.

The winning "castle," built by Federal Railroad Administration employees, used 6,000 canned food items. Photo from DOT Web site

“Pretty impressive,” LaHood said. “Regardless of which intra-agency team wins each year, these donations remind us of how fortunate many of us are, and how important it is to help those who are struggling,” he added.

LaHood praised President and Mrs. Obama for calling attention to the "very real issue of hunger" in America.  “I’m proud to see the tremendous generosity of the DOT family and the entire Federal workforce,” he said.

The 2011 federal employees' food drive, which runs through the end of August, has set a goal of collecting two million pounds of food overall.