When they were challenged to collect valuable food donations for people in need, the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Hernando County stepped up to the meal plate! They have collected more than a ton of peanut butter for seven local food pantries in the county.
The USDA reported in 2020 that one in ten Floridians experienced food insecurity. To help meet the great need for food in our state, the University of Florida IFAS Extension Hernando County stood among competitors in a friendly annual competition known as the Peanut Butter Challenge. As one of the 67 county UF extension offices around Florida participating throughout October, the UF/IFAS Extension in Hernando County collected 1,566 jars of peanut butter, equivalent to 2,238 pounds!
“We are excited that UF/IFAS Extension Hernando was able to collect and distribute more than 1560 jars totaling more than one ton of peanut butter,” said Nancy Moores, 4-H agent and youth development director at the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Hernando County. “All jars were distributed to local pantries and food distribution programs to serve our community.”
So how does one collect more than one ton of peanut butter in a month? “We created a trophy last year likening a peanut, the Traveling Peanut Trophy, for the Hernando County Department bringing in the most ounces,” said Moores. “Last year’s winning department was utilities. This year is the office of economic development.”
Moores also credits 4-H youth programs at Pine Grove and Chocachatti Elementary schools, contributing hundreds of jars of peanut butter to this effort. Moores shared, “We wanted to get the youth involved and accepted donations from the public. All of our 4-H Clubs stepped up, as did organizations like the Spring Hill Amateur Radio Club.”
The recipients of the peanut butter jars included agencies served through People Helping People, an interfaith nonprofit that provides food to people in need in Hernando County, including churches. “We reached out to small, rural area churches, like in Ridge Manor and Masaryktown,” said Moores. “And agencies across the board are seeing new clients every day, so many requests for help.”
According to Moores, peanut butter ranks among the most valuable food staples on the market. “Peanut butter is a healthy protein, containing 30 essential vitamins and minerals, and is a flexible ingredient that can be used in so many ways in healthy meals,” she said. “In addition, 75 percent of the peanuts used to make peanut butter are grown in the state of Florida.”
Representatives from seven recipient help agencies showed up on Nov. 3 at the UF/IFAS Extension office at the Hernando County Airport to retrieve their cans of donated peanut butter.
Nancy Moores reflected on the successful campaign, “The community showed up for us.”