Start Giving Season early this year by participating in UF/IFAS Extension’s 2023 Peanut Butter Challenge throughout October.
The friendly competition among counties asks community members to bring a jar of peanut butter to their local UF/IFAS Extension or FAMU Cooperative Extension office by Oct. 31, after which the totals will be counted and bragging rights awarded to the counties that collect the most. The donations are then given to local food pantries, backpack programs and other partners in the fight against food insecurity.
“Peanut butter is always a great donation item for food pantries, being nutrient-dense and an easy addition to a balanced meal,” said Karla Shelnutt, associate dean for Extension engagement and director of the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program. “Even though a jar of peanut butter is a small request, it means so much to the families facing food insecurity to know their community is supporting them.”
In addition to its nutritional value and easy collectability, peanut butter was originally selected as the donation item as a way to highlight Florida’s peanut production. Goober growers contributed $114 million to the state economy in 2020, with the majority of acreage in the northern parts of the state, including some in the counties recently affected by Hurricane Idalia.
The competition began in the Panhandle counties in 2012 and spread statewide in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent rise in food insecurity in mind.
“It’s always heartwarming to hear the stories of community involvement,” said Jennifer Bearden, UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County agriculture agent and co-organizer of the 2023 event. “This event has always relied on community support, and the competition between counties is all with a positive message at its heart.”
Partnerships are also welcomed, with organic competitions often springing up in schools, clubs, office buildings and the like. Contact your local office to get connected. In addition to the community donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA) and Florida Peanut Federation (FPF) have partnered with the project for years.
Southeast Florida extension offices participating in the challenge include:
• Glades County Extension Office, 900 US Highway 27, Moore Haven;
• Hendry County Extension Office, 1085 Pratt Boulevard, LaBelle;