Spread the word, and the peanut butter! The Peanut Butter Challenge, an annual jar collection that launched in the Florida Panhandle in 2012, is expanding statewide in the wake of Hurricane Sally.
Coordinated by UF/IFAS Extension faculty and volunteers, the project was conceived as a way to feed hungry families ahead of the holidays in addition to promoting a Florida-grown crop. The peanut, which is produced mainly throughout the northern regions of the state, contributed $154 million to the state economy in 2017, according to the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service.
The challenge always runs from Oct. 1 through the day before Thanksgiving – Nov. 25 this year – collecting unopened jars of peanut butter. During this period, drop off jars at your local UF/IFAS Extension county office. All offices are abiding by mask and social distancing guidelines for your safety, but contact your office ahead of time for any questions or concerns.
Peanut butter is an ever-popular item in food pantries for its nutrient density and shelf stability. The project took on new meaning this year as demand for food bank assistance had increased as an economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s challenge was already planned to expand to more of the state’s peanut-producing region with the addition of the northeastern counties for the first time. Now, counties in Central and South Florida are also invited to join in the event.
In addition to the community donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA) and Florida Peanut Federation (FPF) also contribute to the collection effort. At the end of the challenge, the organizations’ donated jars are distributed to participating counties’ food pantries, proportional to the amount each county collects.
Donate unopened jars of peanut butter at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your county. Extension offices for counties in South Central Florida include:
• Okeechobee County Extension Office, 458 U.S. Highway 98 N., Okeechobee;
• Glades County Extension Office, 900 U.S. 27, Moore Haven;