There are some unusual pieces of artwork dotting the atrium of Conestoga Mall this week – and they’re all edible.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s seventh annual Canstruction campaign is underway.

Teams taking part in Canstruction raise money to enter the competition, which involves using non-perishable food items to build unique structures.

The competition only began Saturday – it runs through March Break – with teams being given two hours to build biplanes, snowplows, Olympic rings or any other sort of structure they can come up with.

Among them was Shari Muscat, part of a 10-person team from Stantec that spent 12 weeks designing their plane and collecting the necessary 1,500 food items.

“This is something that we’ve wanted to do for the past couple years,” the multi-time Canstruction volunteer says.

“We’ve spent so much time and so many man-hours putting this together. It’s a feeling of pride.”

Jim Gerrard, an instructor at Conestoga College, has been bringing student volunteers to Canstruction since it began in 2008.

“It’s important to show the students that there’s more to the community than just their education,” he says.

The community need for the food bank’s services is growing, according to executive director Wendi Campbell.

“It’s been a really cold winter,” she tells CTV News.

“Families are trying to put budgets together in a winter where we’ve seen an increase in heating expenses, lots of illness … all kinds of unexpected expenses.”

Campbell says she’s heard from a number of community agencies that they’re “struggling” to fill food hampers and distribute food to everyone in need this winter.

People visiting the mall this week are being asked to donate non-perishable food to the food bank as well.

Doing so gives the donator a vote toward the People’s Choice Award for the most unique, creative or otherwise impressive structure.

In total, the food bank hopes to collect 24,000 pounds of food through Canstruction – or enough to handle its need for one week.