In 2010, four co-workers set out to collect 50 jars of peanut butter and jelly for people in need. Three years later, they’re pleased to say that, with the community’s support, they ended up collecting more than 20,000 jars.
They’re not done by any stretch. With the cupboard nearly bare — stock is down to less than 100 jars of peanut butter, jelly and Fluff left to distribute — the fourth annual PB&J Drive got under way Saturday.
Co-organizer Peter Robinson Jr., a state court officer and instructor for the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, remembers the drive’s humble beginning. He was one of the four county employees who started it.
“We had just got done doing ‘Operation Christmas Child,’ where you go out and you get gifts for kids from across the seas because they don’t have Christmas,” he said.
The good feeling that the co-workers got from helping inspired them to try doing something for people at home. One of the four had heard local food pantries were short on peanut butter, so the group decided to hold a peanut butter and jelly drive.
According to the latest Census, the youth poverty rate in Lockport is 19.12 percent. And the Food Bank of WNY says that since 2006, the number of people who are turning to emergency programs for assistance has increased at an alarming rate. In that time it’s up 41 percent at shelters, 63 percent at soup kitchens and an overwhelming 82 percent at food pantries.
“There’s so many people that want to help, and so many people that need help,” Robinson said. “Mom and dad that are working two jobs each just trying to make ends meet. They go to these food pantries and they have to because that’s the only way to supplement their income.”