Washington Trust annual Peanut Butter Drive comes at crucial time

WESTERLY – The Washington Trust Co. has kicked off its annual Peanut Butter Drive, the 23rd year for an event that benefits the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Connecticut Foodshare and the Greater Boston Food Bank.

The drive will run in all branch locations and online through Friday, March 31. People are encouraged to drop off a jar of peanut butter at Washington Trust branches. The jars will be distributed to local hunger relief agencies.

People can also help the cause by visiting peanutbutterbank.com to make an online donation in support of the Rhode Island, Connecticut and Boston food banks.

Washington Trust says the peanut butter drive comes at a crucial moment for local hunger relief organizations as they brace for the effects of a reduction in funding for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. As of March 1, SNAP benefits paid to states will no longer include the additional emergency funding that was allocated to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Rhode Island, this means that households will see their monthly allocation drop by an average of $153, the bank said.

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The Rhode Island Community Food Bank says 1 in 3 households in the state are food insecure, meaning that they cannot meet their basic food needs, and 41% of households with children are at risk of hunger.

“Washington Trust’s annual Peanut Butter Drive is a long-standing tradition that brings our employees, customers and our communities together in support of a united mission to help local families struggling with food insecurity,” said Edward O. “Ned” Handy III, Washington Trust chairman and CEO, and president of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank board of directors. “We are proud to be working with our hunger relief agency partners across three states to ensure this nutritious, family-friendly pantry is readily available to the individuals and families that they serve.”

Aside from online donations and peanut butter drop-offs at bank branches, Washington Trust encourages people to sign up to host a collection. The bank will provide what’s necessary to serve as a host at schools, businesses or other organizations.

Earlier in March, Washington Trust employees raised more than $4,000 during an annual employee appreciation event, which the Washington Trust Charitable Foundation has pledged to match, dollar for dollar.