Merit Health Natchez employees crush goal, donate 439 jars of peanut butter to three Natchez food banks

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Merit Health Natchez employees set about to do a service project called Jars of Love Peanut Butter Drive.

Their goal was to donate 250 jars of peanut butter to be divided among three Natchez food banks.

They crushed that goal quickly, said Kay Ketchings, Merit Health Natchez director of marketing.

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They raised their goal to 350 jars.

Then, they crushed that goal, too.

Merit Health Natchez employees wound up collecting and donating 439 jars of peanut butter to Catholic Charities, Natchez First Assembly of God and Pilgrim Baptist Church.

The effort came from a desire among grateful Merit Health Natchez employees and medical staff to address hunger in their community. They chose to collect jars of peanut better because April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, Ketchings said.

According to Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the U.S., 21.9 percent of residents in our community struggle to put food on the table. The Jars of Love Peanut Butter Drive was launched to help support individuals who are facing food insecurity, which is a social determinant of health.

Peanut butter is one of the most requested items for food banks because it is highly nutritious and has a long shelf life. Unfortunately, many food banks in America report it is also one of the least donated food items, Ketchings said.

“Food insecurity has a significant impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing,” said Garett May, CEO of Merit Health Natchez. “Through out Jars of Love Peanut Butter Drive, we are working to help fight hunger in our community. Our generous employees really stepped up to be sure we could help our three local food banks provide these jars of love for those they help on a monthly basis.”