Your help is needed — peanut butter please

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

by Dell Cotton

This is a wonderful time of the year. Trees are bare, wheat is dormant in its laid-out rows in the fields and wildlife is active everywhere you look.

Farmers take time to enjoy a break for the holidays after a long, drawn out harvest season. While it may have been long, it was most successful as Mother Nature cooperated in providing excellent crops of cotton, soybeans, peanuts and corn.

The tranquillity, family time and preparing for 2013 has been somewhat upstaged this year by the headlines coming out of Washington and the continuing struggles with the economy. Our nation’s legislators have made it through one major deadline, but with many more days of reckoning to come.

A five-year farm bill was passed by the Senate, but never came to the floor of the House. Even with a nine-month extension of existing farm legislation, farmers are in limbo in knowing what future farm programs will look like.

There are signs that the economy is trying to get better. While we all take these signs and really want to believe that the worst economic times are behind us, something happens to remind us that many among us are still struggling.

My most recent reminder came in the way of a phone call from Ronnie Ferguson with Franklin Cooperative Ministries, our local food bank. Ronnie called me late last week to solicit help for a real problem — she had absolutely no peanut butter.

All of us are well aware of the services provided by our food banks. Their job is to help those in need by having resources available to provide that relief.

There unfortunately are some limits to what these folks can do at times.

Ronnie and others in the same capacity are dependent on those of us who are able to give money or donations.

To me, one of their most important skills is stretching their resources as much as possible. Historically it seems this job becomes the most difficult following the holidays.

Those of you who have read my articles know I am a strong supporter of providing peanuts and peanut butter to food banks. I know, you say it’s my job right, right?

Sure, I know that buying peanut butter helps the farmer, and I work for farmers. However, rather than my having an obligation to contribute peanut butter due to my job, instead in my case my job has taught me how perfect a food peanut butter can be, particularly for this purpose.

Besides the protein, peanut butter is packed with nutrients, minerals and vitamins. It helps with weight loss, has no cholesterol and no trans fats.

It stores easily, and, for folks such as Ronnie, a jar can go a long way.

Finally, it is economical. All of these are reasons why peanut butter is at the top of any food bank’s list of needed foods.

Most of us are not big-time philanthropists, but do what we can to help others when we can. We try to react to a need when we find out the need is there.

Well, folks, here is an opportunity. Ronnie needs some help, and she wants peanut butter. It can be bought locally and will be put to use locally.

With very little effort, you can get a jar, or two, or 10, deliver them to Ronnie at their location at the former Methodist Church on High Street in Franklin, and know that she will make the most of the contribution in helping others.

Sure, Ronnie’s needs are never-ending — I realize that. To hear her say, though, that she has never been completely out of peanut butter hit home with me.

By the time you read this, I will have been to the store, gotten a few jars and delivered them. I hope you will do the same. Regardless of whether you do this on your own, or as part of a business or maybe a church-organized effort, it will be most appreciated. Let’s make a difference.

Dell Cotton is manager of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association. He can be reached at