Franklin County, Florida, ranks above the State average in the percent of residents experiencing food insecurity and households with an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Each year UF/IFAS faculty from across Florida, in concert with the North Florida Peanut Producer’s Association, work to alleviate hunger by conducting the Peanut Butter Challenge. This year, the UF/IFAS Franklin Extension Office advocated support and help from community members, local schools, and businesses to spread the word about hunger and collect peanut butter for local food pantries.
Maddison Whitten, a senior at the Franklin County K-12 school, chose to use this opportunity as her Senior project to give back to her community. Maddison, with the help of the FCHS National Honor Society school chapter
(Kathy Strunk, faculty advisor), spread the word of local hunger and how to take a bite out of it by collecting peanut butter. Collection boxes were placed in classrooms and around the FCS campus. Friendly competition was encouraged with the incentive of a pizza party, with pizza donated by BJ’s Pizza for the class with the most peanut butter.
The response from fellow FCS students, parents, teachers, and school administrators was astounding. During the one-month collection period, the FCS amassed over 800 jars of peanut butter, totaling 1,004 pounds. This volume of nutritious, healthy peanut butter going to local families is an incredible accomplishment for a small rural school district. Other collection sites (First Baptist Christian School, UF/IFAS Franklin Extension Office, Sportsman’s Lodge, 4-H Making Strides Club, Gander’s Hardware) gathered peanut butter as well. All told, when the Extension office tallied all the county’s collections, it came to an amazing 952 jars totaling 1,178 pounds.
The Florida Peanut Producers Association pledged a matching donation to add to the county’s pot. Many families around Franklin County can take a bite out of hunger this year, due to the thoughtful efforts of one high school senior who spread the word that caught fire.
The UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension Office want to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed to this worthy effort. Perhaps we can raise the stakes in 2022 and shoot for a full ton of peanut butter for Franklin County. Start thinking about stockpiling extra as we get close to October 2022, when the annual Peanut Butter Challenge will kick off again.