UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge tackles hunger in the Panhandle
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Thanks to a partnership of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, food pantries from Pensacola to Monticello will receive thousands of jars of donated peanut butter this December.
“The Peanut Butter Challenge not only raises awareness about the important contribution of north Florida’s peanut growers to the state peanut industry, but also helps provide a healthy, locally produced product to food-insecure families in northwest Florida,” said Libbie Johnson, agriculture agent for UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County and co-organizer of the Challenge.
Since 2012, the Peanut Butter Challenge has collected jars of peanut butter from residents, volunteer groups and businesses in 16 northwest Florida counties, Johnson said. This year, UF/IFAS Extension county offices received 3236 jars of peanut butter.
In addition to these donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association also contributes, supplying more than 3000 jars each Challenge, Johnson said.
On Dec. 14, Johnson will lead a team of UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County faculty and staff as they distribute donated peanut butter to nearly 20 food pantries in the Florida Panhandle. Each year, Johnson and her team find themselves handing out more and more peanut butter, due in part to generous contributions from local growers.
Rodney and Mike Helton of Helton Brothers Farms have participated in the Challenge since the beginning. The two brothers believe it’s important to give back to one’s community.
This year, the Heltons have donated 10 pallets – 17,400 jars – of peanut butter, up from 6 pallets the previous year.
“At first, we made a small contribution to the Challenge, but then I got several nice thank you letters that made it clear how great the need was,” Rodney Helton explained. “Once I got to see firsthand the good it was doing, I wanted to do more.”
Caption: : Paul Davis, 4-H youth development agent, and Julie McConnell, horticulture agent, both with UF/IFAS Extension Bay County, stand next to peanut butter donations. This year, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County collected 866 jars of peanut butter.
By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Libbie Johnson, 850-475-5230, email@example.com
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.