Sunday, 16 February 2014

the Great Peanut Butter Divide

I spent another wonderful morning at St John the Divine Church, working with seven other volunteers filling 250 ml containers with peanut butter for their Emergency Food Service. Perhaps responding to Olympic frenzy, we reached a new high, transferring 31 2 kg jars of Kraft smooth peanut butter into 259 individual containers.

This collaboration with St. John's began on May 5, 2013,  as one of the Projects for Mitzvah Day, a day of kindness and community service that I introduced through Congregation Emanu-El in 2012.   At that time, because of generous  donations,  we were able to supply all the peanut butter as well as new plastic containers.  (St John's is now paying for the peanut butter and we are using clean and sterilized re-used containers whenever possible)  

Our participation in May was so appreciated that I was asked if we might repeat the Great Peanut Butter Divide.  Without difficultly, I have assembled an enthusiastic group of volunteers-  in fact, when someone is absent, they ask me to save their spot for the next Divide!   To date, we have gathered at St. John's  5 times and I have promised a minimum of 6 more work parties.   While we are unable to finance the supplies, we are certainly able to give of our time. 
Mitzvah, loosely translated from the Hebrew, is a sacred commitment to positive change and connection.  When so many are in need and when I am so abundant in riches, it seems to be a wonderful way to make a small contribution to our shared community. 

If you are so inclined, I welcome donations of 2 kg jars of Kraft smooth peanut butter.  Perhaps your place of work or social group might like to cover this expense for one month?  We use about 30 jars every 6 or 7 weeks. (available at Costco, the Canadian Wholesale Club and Walmart for $7.49, or occasionally discounted from your local supermarket)  Please contact me if you can help.:

If you are unfamiliar with the Emergency Food Service, here is some information from John Sylwester, Coordinator:

The EFS started in the mid 1990s as a "temporary" outreach program to people in need in Greater Victoria. The people served are primarily on Social Assistance, working poor and/or have disabling conditions. They have difficulty feeding themselves and their families on what the government provides or on their low incomes.

People can access the EFS once a month. In 2012 we had 5436 guests, a 11.58% increase over 2011 and 66.7% over 2007. We do not provide pre-packaged hampers. Our guests choose from a provided list of items. This reflects our respect for individual preferences and lessens the chance of supplying unwanted items which may be thrown away.

The EFS is supported by members of St John the Divine, members of other churches and synagogues, and non-church individuals, businesses and organizations. All donations are used for purchases for the food bank. The church provides the space and covers all related costs [janitorial, utilities, etc.] The EFS is staffed by approximately 60 volunteers from SJD, Grace Lutheran, Congregation Emanu-El and non-church members. The EFS is dependent upon outside donations as we would be unable to carry on this ministry with financial support from just our members.

In 2012 EFS spent $35,078 and received many donated food items from individuals and occasionally the Mustard Seed and Salvation Army. The For Good Measure Premium Bulk Food provides some items at cost. Cobs and Wildfire Bakeries donate bread.

someone has already responded and will purchase one jar of peanut butter a month!


  1. Hurrah! Thank you for sharing this! And thanks to all of you involved. What a wonderful gift.

  2. a real mitzvah!