Peanut butter recall strains food banks

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Not one but 76 kinds of peanut butter are off the market after a salmonella outbreak. Those suffering the most are the ones most in need.

On any given morning, you'll see young mothers, even the elderly waiting in the long line outside St. Mary's Food Bank.

Walter Baumgart is among the crowd as he's been depending on food boxes for five years. Without the help, "I would be in trouble and so would a lot of other people."

Baumgart points out the peanut butter recall is truly devastating.

"A lot of people have nothing else left at the end of the month except for peanut butter," he said.

As Jerry Brown, director of Media Relations at St. Mary's Food Bank explains, "It's kind of the sun that everything else orbits around in an emergency food box."

Losing peanut butter coupled with fewer donations over the summer puts St. Mary's in a tough spot. The food bank has no choice but to put fewer cans in each box.

"Where normally you'd see six to eight, you're now seeing three to four cans now in our emergency food box and it's a noticeable difference for our clients, the people that are picking it up," Brown said.

And we're not just talking about one kind of peanut butter. Since the recall recently expanded, numerous brands were put on the list.

Sunland Incorporated recalled multiple brands of peanut butter after the Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 35 salmonella cases in 19 states. Seeing thousands of pounds of peanut butter go to waste is heartbreaking.

"You don't know how hard we work to get 10,000 pounds of peanut butter," Brown said. "We'll have an organization or something that will work for a month to come up with 10,000 pounds of peanut butter and to take 46,000 pounds of it and bury it in a landfill when you know how many people can use it in your community, that's a tough thing to swallow."

While jars of peanut butter deemed safe are slowly trickling into the warehouse, Brown told us, "It's going to take weeks to months to get us back anywhere near the amount of peanut butter. It could be between Thanksgiving and Christmas before we have that peanut butter back in."

St. Mary's hopes not to wait that long to fill the empty spot with palettes of peanut butter.

"Replacing proteins is where we're at right now, it's what we're asking the public to come up with," Brown said.

For the latest information on the CDC recall, visit
To donate to St. Mary's Food Bank, visit