Rising peanut butter prices affect local food pantries - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Rising peanut butter prices affect local food pantries

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MERRILL (WAOW)--Denis McCarthy told Newsline 9 it's hard to keep the shelves of the Merrill Community Food Pantry stocked with peanut butter.

"We're always replacing it," he said.

He estimates the pantry hands out close to 70 jars per week. But a poor peanut harvest is sending prices through the roof. Growers say a hot, dry summer in the south stunted growth and production is down. Experts predict prices could jump as much as 40 percent.

Because of that, McCarthy said he's seen a significant drop in peanut butter donations. A drop in peanut butter, but not people in need of help from the food pantry. "The numbers of people requiring food have increased and then people generally come here once a month to supplement their food and we're seeing that even our regular clients need more food to make it through that month," he said.

Employees at the Neighbor's Place in Wausau have noticed the trend, too. Executive Director Tom Rau said peanut butter donations have dropped in the past two months.

But the commodity is still stocked at the food pantry. "We did get some peanut butter as a part of our commodities delivery from the government and that's been the stock that we've been able to keep peanut butter on our shelves with," he said.

According to Rau, peanut butter is a popular item because it can make a quick meal. 

"A number of people we have are living in situations where they might not have an oven, might not have a microwave and so things that they can make like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nice, pretty nutritious meal."

The Merrill Community Food Pantry uses donations to purchase food weekly. McCarthy said he will just have to keep shelling out more for the hot commodity. 

"We certainly haven't bought less. We keep buying whatever the need requires," he said.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton

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