Peanut butter donations will be distributed

Published 5:28 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

More than 161,000 sandwiches can be made with the seven pallets of peanut butter recently donated to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. Its seven regional food banks will each receive one pallet, and that peanut butter will be distributed to a network of 1,500 pantries, soup kitchens and other partner agencies.

The Virginia Peanut Board and Virginia Peanut Growers Association recently teamed up with Peanut Proud to contribute 10,080 jars to the nonprofit organization. That spreadable mother lode will provide a shelf-stable source of nutrition for food-insecure families across Virginia.

“This is mainly due to the important nutritional attributes that peanuts provide,” said Dell Cotton, executive secretary of the VPGA. “A peanut butter sandwich, so simple to make, is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, folate and other benefits for the body.”

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This year’s donation increased significantly with a five-pallet contribution from Peanut Proud, an industry-sponsored charitable organization that responds to existing food bank needs in peanut-growing states or for disaster relief efforts.

Cotton added that the COVID-19 pandemic put immense strain on the food bank system, and peanut butter is one of the most needed products.

“Nutritious, shelf-stable food items like peanut butter are essential to our emergency food distribution efforts,” said Eddie Oliver, FVFB executive director. “We are so grateful we can rely on our partners at the Virginia Peanut Growers Association to help us better serve the estimated 800,000 Virginians struggling with food insecurity.”

In its 12th year, this annual donation coincides with National Peanut Month in March — an opportunity to recognize the versatility of the peanut. Virginia is ranked ninth in the U.S. for peanut production, with the groundnuts grown mostly in its sandy southeastern soils. Cotton reported more than 139 million pounds of Virginia peanuts were harvested on 29,000 acres in 2021, generating $36 million.

“It’s heartwarming to see this great program initiated year after year,” said Southampton County peanut grower M.L. Everett Jr., who chairs the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Peanut Advisory Committee.

Virginia’s peanut farmers are concerned with extending shelf life to ensure a steady supply for consumers. “When storing peanuts longer than eight months, the quality coming out of stores isn’t as fresh,” Everett said.

But high-oleic varieties grown now have a much later freshness date and increased yields, and they pack health benefits such as boosting “good” cholesterol levels.