Next time you are the grocery store, consider purchasing an extra jar or two of peanut butter and donating it to your local Extension office as part of the annual Peanut Butter Challenge. The Challenge is a food collection drive of peanut butter from within each of the 16 UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District Counties. UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District agents have been partnering with the Florida Peanut Producers Association since 2012 to collect peanut butter and distribute the bounty to local food pantries in each county. Annually, Ken Barton and the Florida Peanut Producers Association Board of Directors provide an additional two pallets of peanut butter (approximately 2800 jars) to be divided between the counties. Not only does the Peanut Butter Challenge help publicize the important contribution of north Florida’s peanut growers to the peanut industry, but it also helps provide a healthy and universally loved product, made from a locally grown product, to food pantries in northwest Florida communities from Pensacola to Monticello.
In 2014, Santa Rosa County collected 1477 jars resulting in more than a ton of peanut butter for their local food pantries. Escambia County was blessed by the support Helton Farms and Tri-County Peanut Buying Point. Rodney and Mike Helton and Tri-County purchased two additional pallets of peanut butter from Peanut Proud and helped to distribute to Escambia County Florida and Escambia and Baldwin counties in Alabama. In Washington County, the Public Library is doing a “Food for Fines” campaign, whereby patrons can bring in food in lieu of money for overdue fines. The library director is changing her campaign to require peanut butter donations as the food for fine forgiveness. They will collect peanut butter through November 30 and make a joint presentation with Extension to the local food bank.
As you can see, there are many different ways to get involved. Across the panhandle, 3463 jars of peanut butter were donated in 2014, amounting to almost 5000 pounds of peanut butter. We’d really like to surpass that number, so please consider helping us by donating as many jars of peanut butter as you can afford. The collection continues to November 25, 2015. Contact your local Extension office to find out where you can drop off peanut butter.