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A line of peanut butter jars along countertop

Indian River County Extension Accepts Peanut Butter Challenge

By Yvonne Florian, Indian River Extension, Program Assistant and Christine Kelly-Begazo.

Indian River County Extension has taken up the Challenge!!

Yvonne accepts 2nd donation of peanut butter from Myra Greenfield

Yvonne accepts Myra Greenfield’s 2nd donation of peanut butter. Thanks Myra!

For the past few years, the UF IFAS Extension offices in the Florida Panhandle, where the country’s second largest peanut crop is grown, have been challenging each other to collect as many unopened jars of peanut butter as possible for their local food banks.  These donations are matched by the Florida Peanut Producers’ Association, doubling donations that go to feed the hungry.  The University of Florida in Gainesville also took up the challenge two years ago and now this effort is spreading south.  Indian River County Extension is currently collecting jars of unopened peanut butter until December 13, at the Extension office in Vero Beach for the 2019 Peanut Butter Challenge.  All donations will be given to our local food bank so it stays right here in our own community, helping those who need a hand up.

Why peanut butter?  Frankly, it is easy , cheap, nutritious, shelf stable and readily available.  While most of us do not feel qualified to solve world hunger, we can certainly give this a try, one jar at a time.

Just a few fun facts about peanuts and peanut butter…

  • Peanuts are not a nut but a legume, or bean.
  • European explorers first discovered peanuts in Brazil.  As early as 1500 B. C., the Incas of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and entombed them with their mummies to aid in the spirit life.
  • Originally in the U.S., peanut butter was only available for the very wealthy at private health care institutes as a health food and nutritional supplement.
  • Americans consume about $800 MILLION of peanut butter yearly.
  • Officially, it cannot be called “Peanut Butter” unless it contains 90% peanuts with no added sweeteners or flavoring agents.
  • Florida grows more than 175,000 acres of peanuts each year, worth about $235 million. 

A great snack for a crowd of small hungry children, or anyone for that matter, is “Apple-wiches”.  Make a sandwich of thinly sliced, cored apple with a smear of peanut butter.  Kids scarf these up and it is a great way to make a couple of apples feed many hungry noshers.  Recipes can be found at the National Peanut Board’s website: nationalpeanutboard.org/…/15-surprising-ways-to-use-peanut-butter.htm and a favorite Peanut Butter Balls recipe can be found at the Iowa State University Extension website:spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/…/peanut-butter-balls.

A cut green apple lies next to peanut butter on a plate.

Peanut Butter on Apple slices – photo by Robert Annis UF/IFAS

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain:

  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 8 grams of protein
  • 16 grams of “good” fat
  • Only 188 calories

Add that to an apple and you add another 25 grams of complex carbohydrates, 4.4 grams of fiber, .4 grams of protein, 14% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 6 % of RDA of potassium, 5% of RDA of vitamin K, and only another 95 calories.

The food news for diabetics is that both peanut butter and apples may improve blood sugar control.  Many studies have found that regular consumption of nuts and peanuts can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.  According to “Healthline” magazine for those who already have diabetes nut consumption is a food way to maintain steady blood sugar levels between meals.  Care must be taken to only consume the recommended serving size due to their high caloric value.

Indian River County Extension is proud to rise to the 2019 Peanut Butter Challenge to collect as many jars of peanut butter for local food bank as we can by December 13, 2019.  Using a shopping cart donated by Publix Super Markets to contain all the jars brought in by our volunteers, friends and local citizens, our goal is to put a bite into hunger on the Treasure Coast.

4-H Agent Darren Cole and Peanut Butter Challenger donations by Linda and Sharon

4-H Agent Darren Cole and Peanut Butter Challengers Linda and Sharon