Since the coronavirus disrupted normal routines with school and workplace closures in March, area food pantry efforts across the Big Bend have seen increased traffic. In Wakulla, addressing food insecurity and hunger is a community effort. With support from Farm Share and Second Harvest of the Big Bend and other community partners, local church organizations have taken the lead in filling cupboards for hungry families in the Wakulla community.
High Demand for Food Assistance
In Wakulla County, like so many other communities across Florida, it has become an all too familiar scene – a line of cars waiting to drive through a food distribution site. Local churches have reported that the number of families served by their monthly food ministry efforts has more than doubled and, in some areas, tripled in the last six months.
During challenging economic times, the nonprofits, civic organizations, and faith community find their groups serving in the gap that would otherwise leave a family with empty plates. In the Big Bend and Panhandle, from Jefferson to Escambia counties, UF/IFAS has worked with peanut associations to bring more of this nutritious, protein-rich food commodity into high need communities.
Make a Match with UF/IFAS
Since 2012, UF/IFAS has organized a peanut butter match program. Peanut butter donation drives have been managed by county Extension offices. Each jar collected stays in the community and helps the county be eligible for a match thanks to a partnership between the Florida Peanut Producers Association and the Florida Peanut Federation. The more jars of peanut butter collected, the more peanut butter communities qualify for in the match.
Become a Peanut Butter Challenge Champion
How can you or your own organization become a peanut butter challenge champion by helping with this effort? You can host a peanut butter challenge box at your church or office. In Wakulla County, contact Dr. Rachel Pienta at the Extension office to arrange for a box and flyers: email@example.com or 850-926-3931. Outside Wakulla County, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to connect with the local effort closest to you.
Peanut butter collected and match peanut butter received will be distributed in the county to partner organizations in December for the families they serve. In prior years, the peanut butter drive has helped support school break backpack programs for children and weekly or monthly family meal boxes at local food pantries. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please see this link for Wakulla locations to help you: https://fightinghunger.org/find-a-food-pantry/.