The miracle staple that saves the starving and goes ever so well with jelly is in short supply. A spell of hot weather in Texas and Georgia this year, combined with a shift toward more lucrative crops like corn, has sent the cost of PB up 30%. That means food banks may be forced to go full Scrooge when it comes to peanut butter in their emergency holiday food boxes.
Usually, peanut butter is an old standby for such agencies. Kids adore it and it doesn’t spoil. With a jar of peanut butter costing $3-4 at grocery stores, however, they are looking to protein alternatives like canned tuna or chicken.
(MORE: A Brief History of Peanut Butter)
Food banks are already under pressure as the bad economy has slowed donations and driven up the numbers of families looking for help. Phoenix-based St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, one of the country’s largest, has increased the amount of food it distributes by 75% over the past three years. This year, they may not be able to include peanut butter in each of the 25,000 emergency food boxes they distribute each month.
“It’s tough for us to not be able to provide to the extent we’d like to,” Bob Randels, director of a Michigan food bank told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “I imagine that we’re just going to do without that basic staple until hopefully things come around.”