More than 17,400 Monroe County residents often struggle to put food on the table.
That’s 11.3% of the county’s population, according to Feeding America (FA), a national hunger relief organization focused on ending global food insecurity.
Monroe’s Trinity Lutheran Church has capped a month-long campaign to collect jars of peanut butter and jelly to alleviate the growing crisis.
Donations are still trickling in, and the 350-member congregation has surpassed initial expectations by collecting over 1,600 jars in total.
why peanut butter?
Nutritious, high-protein, and long-storable peanut butter is a fundamental part of the American diet, but the surge in COVID-19 supply chains and the aftermath of inflationary pressures has made it increasingly popular in local food banks and pantries. increasingly scarce.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one jar of peanut butter can make 16 sandwiches for a hungry family member.
Trinity volunteers will distribute the donated jars to food pantries throughout the region, according to campaign driving force Alison Beaker.
She took action after discovering that her local pantry, which uses an average of 34 jars of peanut butter a month, had only two jars on hand to meet the demand. Telephone surveys of other local pantries found similar shortages.
“I realized how easy it is to assume that food insecurity does not exist in our county and that there will always be enough food in the pantry to feed a family. But we don’t think it will be a problem,” Beeker said. “I have always felt that everyone has the ability to make a big difference for someone.With the help of my church community, here is an opportunity to put that belief into practice.”
Beaker’s confidence was fueled by the belief that the Monroe community, when united, “can do amazing things.”
Getting permission from Trinity minister Daniel Potts to launch the campaign was easy. He has been a peanut butter lover since childhood.
“God has set a challenge before us,” he said.
According to Stephanie Kasprzak, executive director of the Monroe County Opportunity Program (MCOP), access to food is critical for low-income households who cannot meet their basic needs. MCOP is a food bank hub with over 40 of her pantry partners throughout the region.
“During COVID-19, large amounts of food were distributed through various community organizations, with additional money distributed through food stamps and school programs,” Kasprzak said. With school program subsidies gone and food costs skyrocketing, demand for local food banks is increasing.
“Demand and supply are not in balance, so supply is falling and demand is rising.”
Kasprzak rates the Trinity Peanut Butter Movement as “best community action”.
“It’s great to have community partners like Trinity helping us fight food shortages in Monroe,” says Kasprzak.
Americans prefer nuts to peanut butter, consuming more than 700 million pounds a year, according to research. According to the Peanut Butter Board (PBB), 94% of households can find at least one jar of him.
Though considered a kid’s food, the average kid eats 1,500 peanut butter sandwiches by the time he graduates from high school.
Based on a quick survey of donated jelly jars, Monroe County residents’ favorite sandwich topping is grapes, followed by strawberries, upending national tastes.
If the choice between creamy and chunky donating is any indication, the county is back in sync with the rest of the country with the smooth version winning out.
Encouraged by this year’s success, Trinity parishioners plan to make the Peanut Butter Movement an annual event in April.
In the meantime, donations must be made directly to food banks and pantries.
Beaker’s hope is that current and future generations will spread love as much as peanut butter by calling on better angels to “make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.”
Those wings are already sprouting at the Beaker house.
She proudly remembers when her 9-year-old son, Brendan, first learned about the Trinity Crusade.
“He asked me if I could use my pocket money to buy a jar of peanut butter to help others.
Michael Kiefer is a former reporter and columnist for the Kalamazoo Gazette and The Flint Journal. He can be reached at his firstname.lastname@example.org..