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Peanut Butter Too Expensive For Food Banks

November 30, 2011, 4:56 PM by Hailey Higgins

Peanut Butter Too Expensive For Food Banks
SIOUX FALLS, SD - As the price of peanut butter climbs at the grocery store, it's becoming hard to come by at some food banks.

The drought in the southern states has cut peanut butter production, making it more expensive. For years, the government bought peanut butter for Feeding South Dakota but over the last few months, it's become even too expensive for them.

Of all the food that comes into KELOLAND food banks, peanut butter has always been one of the most popular items. But in South Dakota food pantries, it's hard to come by.

Earlier this fall, Feeding South Dakota Executive Director Matt Gassen says the federal government stopped offering it as a commodity when the price rose to $85,000 a load.

"They just literally stopped buying the peanut butter because it was just too expensive and too many of the program dollars would be utilized trying to buy one product," Gassen said.

Peanut butter was a staple in the Senior Box Program, which feeds thousands of South Dakota's low-income seniors. Now, pantries and food banks rely exclusively on donations for the protein-rich spread.

For now in Sioux Falls, there is enough peanut butter on the shelves, but in Rapid City, they are nearly empty.
"We are struggling a little more there with peanut butter. We don't have as much as we'd like or need but that is the way it is," Gassen said.

Gassen doesn't expect the peanut butter commodity to come back anytime soon. And for the time being, each jar of donated peanut butter will need to go a long way.

"Those families that are struggling that jar of peanut butter really helps stretch their food budgets a lot, so it's important in that regard.  Plus, the nutritional value for having all that protein," Gassen said.

Gassen says they were used to getting five commodity items at Sioux Falls Food Pantry. Now he says, with rising food costs, they are down to one.

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