YORKTOWN — Sixteen thousand pounds of peanut butter. That is how much of America’s favorite spread received by the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank (VPF) in last year’s “Spread the Love” peanut butter drive. This year the VPF and the drive’s sponsor, Kroger, are hoping to top that.
Starting on Wednesday, Aug. 18, the national supermarket chain, Kroger will sponsor their annual drive in partnership with Feeding America. Kroger customers can purchase any brand of peanut butter and place it in the donation bin at the front of each store. The drive extends through Tuesday, Sept. 14 and will go to benefit local foodbanks all over the Mid-Atlantic region.
While some might wonder why there is such a big emphasis on peanut butter, Karen Joyner, chief executive officer at the VPF, will tell you that it is always a welcome sight in VPF donation bins.
“It is one of the top foods that food banks ask for,” Joyner notes. “It’s healthy, full of fiber and protein. It is a really nutrient rich food, plus everyone loves peanut butter.”
On top of the health benefits, another reason foodbanks request peanut butter is for its shelf stability. An opened jar of peanut butter can remain safe to eat for years after production.
This is the third year that Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic region has run a peanut butter drive. More than 100 stores throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio will take part.
The “Spread the Love” drive is one of many that the VPF counts on to help feed those in need on the Virginia Peninsula. Joyner says that the foodbank receives around a half a million pounds in food donations through drives every year.
Since being established in 1986, the VPF has provided more than 178 million meals to people in need. With a service area that stretches from the New Kent, James City County line down to the tip of the Peninsula in Hampton.
There has been less need for the foodbank’s services over the last several months. Joyner attributes that to the COVID-19 oriented government stimulus payments and other subsidies. While the need is down, so too is are donations.
“A lot of these special programs are coming to an end,” Joyner said. “We expect the need to increase once the added unemployment benefits have gone away.”
With the expanded unemployment benefits ending the first week of September, VPF expects to see a significant uptick in calls for help.
For anyone looking to donate food to the VPF directly, click here for a list of needed non-perishable items, as well as a list of drop off locations around the Peninsula.
For any organizations that would like to sponsor a food drive, check out the foodbank’s food and fund drive page.