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PB&J Drive to benefit local food pantry

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Bank of North Georgia plans to host its third annual Back-to-School Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive, July 12-31, during normal banking hours, to benefit 27 food pantries located near the bank's 43 branches.

Area residents are asked to drop off peanut butter and jelly at local Bank of North Georgia branches. The Jonesboro Road Branch, at 285 Jonesboro Road in McDonough, and the Eagle's Landing Branch, at 1767 Rock Quarry Road in Stockbridge, will be used as drop-off points for the Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry.

"Peanut butter is always a good staple food," said Nola Love, president of the Stockbridge-based pantry. "Peanut butter, to me, is one of those good protein products that a child can eat and not go hungry."

Love said, however, that peanut butter has tended to be in short supply for food pantries, which are increasingly strapped for additional funds to buy the food product. "When we get peanut butter from a drive, that means we can give it to everybody," she added. "And it couldn't be a better time for peanut butter and jelly, when kids are out of school."

Bank of North Georgia collected 2,861 jars -- 4,624 pounds -- last year, according to bank officials.

"In 2008, we began hosting a food drive because we learned that food pantry shelves are typically depleted in the summer months and there is a tremendous need for nutritious food for children as they prepare to go back to school," said Don Howard, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of North Georgia. "Our team members are passionate about making a difference in the local communities we serve."

Additionally, the stagnant economy has caused more local families to reach out to food banks for assistance, said Barbara Duffy, executive director of North Fulton Community Charities (NFCC).

"We are seeing new families asking for help, who used to be our donors," Duffy said. "Our donations have been good, but the need is through the roof. NFCC is distributing food to over 100 families every day, and our wonderful volunteers are processing over 9 tons of food each week."

For more information about the locations and branch hours, visit www.bankofnorthgeorgia.com.