Start Giving Season early this year by participating in UF/IFAS Extension’s 2023 Peanut Butter Challenge throughout October. Hernando County is competing again this year after coming in first in the Central District and second in the state.
The friendly competition among counties asks community members to bring a jar of peanut butter to their local UF/IFAS Extension Office or other participating location by Oct. 31, after which the totals will be tallied, 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. The real winners are our community organizations and local families.
“Peanut Butter collected in Hernando stays in Hernando!” said Dr. Nancy Moores, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County 4-H Agent and Peanut Butter Challenge coordinator. “In addition,” she added, “we have an internal competition between participating county government offices to see who wins the Peanut Trophy for one year. This trophy currently resides with Airport Administration, but they will be turning it over to the 2023 winner.”
The UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County office, located at 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, will be collecting donations of unopened, unexpired peanut butter jars of any size. Other community partners already signed on to accept donations include:
Chocachatti Elementary School on California Street
Pine Grove Elementary School on Ken Austin Parkway
Various County Government Offices throughout the area
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 the Hernando County office to get connected at 352-540-6229 or [email protected].
In addition to the community donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA) and Florida Peanut Federation (FPF) have partnered with the project for years. These organizations are based in the northwest and northeast peanut-producing regions of the state and will again contribute to the totals distributed to food pantries in those regions.
For more information about drop-off locations and how to participate, visit sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/peanutbutter.