Working for Peanuts

  • 8 February 2011

In Houston, Texas, USA, the Church provides the packing facilities, the Houston Food Bank funds the peanuts, and corporate volunteers help produce 100,000 jars of peanut butter a year for the food bank.

Article Highlights

  • The Church, the Houston Food Bank, and volunteers from local corporations produce 100,000 jars of peanut butter each year for the food bank.
  • The Houston Food Bank serves more than 137,000 people each week.

“The real satisfaction and the real enjoyment is being able to help somebody that you don’t necessarily know. You’re not expecting to get anything back from that person.” —Arch Lane, “The Peanut Project” volunteer

Roasted peanuts—it’s an aroma associated with carnivals, street vendors, and . . . service?

In Houston, Texas, USA, residents are starting to connect the two at the Church’s local cannery, where the Church partners with the Houston Food Bank to produce 100,000 jars of peanut butter each year.

“The Church provides the facility; the food bank provides the funding for the peanuts,” said Patte Comstock of LDS Charities. “But someone has to go in and get on the production line and make the peanut butter, and that’s where the corporate volunteers come in.” 

Among giant white bags of peanuts—grown by the Church in nearby Pearsall—employees of local corporations work on “The Peanut Project.” 

“I sincerely hope that people know that they live among people who have big hearts—people who want to help, people who understand the problems that their brothers and sisters go through—and don’t have the feeling that they’re alone, that they don’t have any resources to feed their families,” corporate volunteer William Clay Coe III said. “This church does a wonderful job of feeding people both in its own house and in the community at large.”

Automobile engineer Arch Lane spent a day making peanut butter as a corporate volunteer. “The real satisfaction and the real enjoyment is being able to help somebody that you don’t necessarily know,” he said. “You’re not expecting to get anything back from that person.”

During a four-hour shift volunteers shell, grind, mix, and can the creamy, nutrient-rich product.

“We’re looking for shelf-stable [foods] . . . with high nutritional value, and the thing that helps us the most is the products that the family would otherwise have difficulty paying for,” said Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “You put those things together, and peanut butter is actually the perfect product.”

Since 2004 the cannery has produced and donated more than 700,000 jars of peanut butter to the Houston Food Bank. The food bank feeds 137,000 people each week.

It may seem like peanuts to those who take the short four hours to serve their fellow man, but to the children and families on the receiving end, it’s a whole lot more.

For more information, visit LDScharities.org.