ESSEX, Va. — County Farm Bureau Women’s Committees across Virginia are banding together to help the hungry in their communities with a classic lunchtime staple—peanut butter and jelly.
Sponsored by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee, participating county Farm Bureau women’s committees are collecting peanut butter, jelly and other non-perishable food items to help support regional food banks, local food pantries and Virginia families.
The idea for the statewide effort started when Faye Hundley, chairman of VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee, heard about the spike in people seeking food assistance and wanted to help. She reached out to the women’s committees and began organizing the effort.
“I saw on the local news where people were waiting in these long lines just to get a bag of food,” she said. “So, I asked, ‘What is something we can do?’”
Hundley said the PB&J theme was chosen in a nod to Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2020 Book of the Year, PB&J Hooray! by Janet Nolan.
“If someone is already going grocery shopping, or if they have another person shopping for them, we’re hoping they can add a jar of peanut butter or jelly to their grocery list and donate at a Farm Bureau collection site,” Hundley said.
About 26 Farm Bureau women’s committees have joined the effort thus far, and Hundley anticipates more joining as restrictions loosen, and people feel more comfortable going out.
Though part of a statewide initiative, each women’s committee is organizing its own food drive. Many are holding their collections on July 25, while others are accepting items throughout the summer.
“We chose July 25 as the primary collection day because we felt stay-at-home restrictions would be easing and anticipated people might start venturing out more, with life getting back to normal,” Hundley said. “We also thought about all the children out of school during the summer who are not receiving a food subsidy.”
Brunswick County Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee is one with an ongoing donation program. By the end of June, they had collected and donated more than 70 pounds of food to the Brunswick County Food Pantry at Lawrenceville United Methodist Church.
“We are collecting all summer and keep expanding who we invite to donate,” said Cynthia Gregg, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent and member of the Brunswick Women’s Committee. “We are working on the third summer drive now.”
To find out if there is a PB&J food drive near you, contact your local county Farm Bureau office. Homemade items cannot be accepted. All food donations must be store-bought and must not be expired.
–Virginia Farm Bureau