Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It's Nuts! Why is Good Peanut Butter Going to a New Mexico Landfill?

It's worse than an April Food's joke. It's the foolish reality.

Good food is being thrown away in New Mexico because of a business dispute.  And this is happening at a time when hunger is a huge problem in our state. It all started when the Sunland peanut plant in Portales, N.M., filed for bankruptcy protection late last year. Health violations were a reason behind the economic problems at the facility. There was an impasse when it came to auctioning off assets this year.

Rather than explain the problem in my own words, I'll share comments from the Albuquerque Journal in an editorial published today, entitled "Peanut butter dump hard to swallow in NM."
In a state that ranks No. 1 in child hunger, where 66 percent of public school students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, where one in five people adjusts their eating patterns because their household lacks money and other resources for food, and 40,000 residents seek help from a free food pantry or food bank every week, it defies logic and compassion to throw 950,000 jars of nut butter – about 25 tons – into the dump.

Yet an impasse between the bankrupt Sunland peanut plant and Costco Wholesale, which supplied the nuts, means all that $2.6 million in peanut butter is landfill filler.
According to various reports, the peanut butter was tested and was found to be fully safe for human consumption   And yet, the editorial points out...
No donating it to food banks or repackaging it for sale to brokers who supply institutions like prisons. Instead, $60,000 will be spent to have the almost million jars hauled to the Curry County landfill in Clovis and covered with dirt. 

And considering New Mexico’s too-close relationship with hunger, that’s a decision that’s impossible to justify. 
When looking at the enormity of hunger in New Mexico, this is a relatively small matter. The Albuquerque Journal should be advocating for structural and economic changes that will address hunger in New Mexico.  That's for another time. For this particular situation, it is right to be indignant about this negligent waste of food.  After all, folks at food banks in the state (and around the country, for that matter) will tell you that peanut butter is one of the items most requested by food pantries and other providers that serve hungry clients,

Read the full editorial  (although this blog post contains the key points of the text). 

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