Posted by DG Joe Kashi on May 04, 2021
Rotary clubs in Alaska are stepping up to meet the challenge of food insecurity. Last fall, the Rotary Club of Kenai launched a Peanut Butter Challenge, inspiring other clubs across the state to support their local food banks. The effort spread to Washington and Oregon, and netted 6,126 pounds of peanut butter, as well as $7,548 in cash donations, for local food banks.
Peanut butter is one of the most requested donation items for food banks. Greg Meyer, executive director of the Food Bank of the Kenai Peninsula, said there are several reasons for that.
“It is a very popular food, most children love it. It can be eaten without any preparation. It does not need special storage conditions.  It can be combined with other foods.  It is a great source of protein,” Meyer said.
Meyer estimates about 40 percent of the people who receive assistance from the food bank live in dry cabins, off the grid, or are experiencing homelessness.
“Having peanut butter and crackers, you have a tasty meal that has good nutrition, and you can eat it anywhere and store it anywhere, including the plastic container that is pest-proof,” Meyer said.
Scott Seitz, Kenai Rotary Club president, said the idea for the challenge hatched during a training seminar for club presidents-elect. Scott reached out to other clubs in Alaska, as well as clubs in his former hometown in Washington.
The challenge helps make connections between clubs, and also helped connect Rotary with the community. Seitz said his wife, Karen, had set up a table to collect donations at the Kenai Safeway. A group of kids went in to buy snacks, but one of the boys, after learning about the challenge, spent his money on a small jar of peanut butter.
The Fairbanks Rotary Club continued the giving this spring, holding a peanut butter drive for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
“Peanut butter is a quick, easy, shelf-stable, kid-friendly food that is enjoyed by most people. Due to its high protein level, it is a nutritional staple for any meal. Peanut butter can be enjoyed by itself, with fruit, bread, or crackers, or as a sandwich. Because of the easy preparation and multiple uses, both adults and children can easily prepare a nutritional meal by using peanut butter as the main ingredient in their meal,” said Anne Weaver, CEO of the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
Weaver said she is appreciative of area Rotary clubs’ efforts.
“When we see a need in the community, it is often the Rotary clubs that step up to meet those needs,” Weaver said.
Seitz said the Peanut Butter Challenge will be an annual event. This year’s challenge will take place in August, as food banks are preparing for the school year. The Kenai club has trophies up for grabs, one for clubs in Alaska and one for participating clubs from around the world.
Rotary District 5010 covers the entire State of Alaska, with more than 1,500 members and 37 clubs.   
From Utqiagvik to Ketchikan and Nome to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, our 37 clubs join with the other 1.2 million members of Rotary International around the world who believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues in our communities and across the globe.
Rotary members work together to:
  • Promote peace
  • Fight disease
  • Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Save mothers and children
  • Support education
  • Grow local economies
Learn more about Rotary in Alaska at