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      Businesses support food bank's peanut butter drive

      Columbia businesses and organizations are teaming up with the Central Missouri Food Bank to collect peanut butter for the agency's Buddy Pack program.

      Collection bins for the peanut butter are in place at the new Wilson's Fitness location on Orr Street in downtown Columbia.

      "We're having our grand opening celebration this Friday, Feb. 19, and we wanted to incorporate the Central Missouri Food Bank to come be a part of it and help out the community as much as we could," Wilson's Fitness General Manager Tia Casady said.

      The peanut butter will be given to the 4,000 mid-Missouri children who are part of the Buddy Pack program, where kids in need are sent home with a bag full of food for the weekend or school breaks.

      "One of the commitments we made when we started the program was to always have some form of protein in every single backpack," Central Missouri Food Bank Executive Director Peggy Kirkpatrick said. "Since the food has to be shelf stable the most obvious choice is peanut butter."

      Wilson's Fitness is not the only one helping out the Central Missouri Food Bank right now. Columbia Catholic School has already dropped off their peanut butter donation.

      Columbia Catholic students and staff donated over 450 jars of peanut butter to the food bank. Those jars have already been given out to Buddy Pack kids.

      "Columbia Catholic is all about serving others and we really step up to the plate, I think, and the kids really get into it because they understand that its God's plan for us to help others," Columbia Catholic School fourth grade teacher Aimee Spicci said.

      The food bank's goal is to collect 10,000 jars of peanut butter by the end of April.

      Several other places in Columbia are part of the peanut butter drive: Commerce Bank, Missouri United Methodist Church, New Life Church, First Presbyterian Church, and the MU Athletics Dept.

      There are no businesses or organizations in the Jefferson City area that have teamed up with the food bank for the peanut butter drive.

      If you are interested in helping out, you can contact the Central Missouri Food Bank at (573) 474-1020 or toll free at 800-764-3663.

      All the peanut butter collected will go to Buddy Pack receipients in that same area.