Through donations, support from various businesses and groups like county 4-H clubs, local Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, churches and EscaRosa Young Farmers and Ranchers, more than 9,000 jars of peanut butter were collected this year for the Florida Peanut Butter Challenge.

The challenge is a food-collection drive of peanut butter from within the 16 counties in University of Florida Extension’s northwest district and the Florida Peanut Producers Association.

Florida Peanut Producers Association provided two pallet of peanut butter to be divided among the counties for the challenge.

All the peanut butter collected was given to local food pantries.   Not only does the Peanut Butter Challenge publicize the important contribution of north Florida’s peanut growers to the peanut industry, but it provides a healthy, locally grown product to food pantries in northwest Florida counties from Pensacola to Monticello.

Escambia County peanut growers Rodney and Michael Helton of Helton Brothers Farm donated a pallet of peanut butter and asked local buying point Tri County Peanut LLC to purchase another pallet.

“My brother (Michael) and I feel like we have been very blessed with growing some good crops.   We both wanted to share our blessings,” said Rodney Helton.

And when they learned who would be getting the donations and “how great the need for peanut butter is and how appreciative food pantries are to get it, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Helton said. “The owners at Tri County Peanut feel the same.  We all want to help our local communities, and if providing a product that is made from some of the crops that we grow will help, we are all for that.”

As an added incentive to get county Extension offices to participate, John Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau president, is sponsoring a meal for the Extension office in the county with a population of greater than 100,000 that collects the most peanut butter, while Jerry Davis, Santa Rosa Farm Bureau president, is sponsoring a meal for the for the Extension office in the county with a population of less than 100,000.  UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County won for the large county category and UF/IFAS Extension Liberty County won for the small county category.