Marion's Peanut Butter Jelly Truck receives $25,000 grant from State Farm

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Luke 3:11 Ministries Peanut Butter Jelly Truck was awarded a $25,000 grant from the State Farm Insurance Neighborhood Assist Program. Luke 3:11 Ministries founders Amy and Brock Parker, center, accepted the check from Marion State Farm agents Dan Barth, left, and Nathan Hinesman, right, on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Luke 3:11 Ministries Peanut Butter Jelly Truck was awarded a $25,000 grant from the State Farm Insurance Neighborhood Assist Program. Luke 3:11 Ministries founders Amy and Brock Parker, center, accepted the check from Marion State Farm agents Dan Barth, left, and Nathan Hinesman, right, on Friday, June 24, 2022.

A Marion County ministry devoted to feeding hungry people in the community has received a major boost from a national insurance company.

State Farm Insurance agents Dan Barth and Nathan Hinesman, both with offices in Marion, presented a check for $25,000 to Amy and Brock Parker, founders of the Peanut Butter Jelly Truck, on behalf of the company's Neighborhood Assist Program. The Peanut Butter Jelly Truck was one of 100 non-profit organizations to receive a $25,000 gift this year.

"This is so exciting. Thank you so much," Amy Parker said during the check presentation last Friday. "Thank you, State Farm. And also, thank you, Marion. Every donor, every volunteer, and every supporter who took the time to just vote for this contest and worked all together to make this happen. This is a huge victory for Marion. We served almost 29,000 meals last year and we're on track to exceed that this year. This check will ensure that we can go on for the following year after that.

"This is such a wonderful blessing and we are so grateful to everybody who's worked together. We also want to give God the glory because this is his work that we're doing."

Barth said more than 4,000 non-profit groups applied for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program grants in 2022. He noted that the 100 grants awarded is the largest amount he can recall and coincides with the 100th anniversary of the company.

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Under the umbrella of 501c3 charity Luke 3:11 Ministries, the Parkers started the Peanut Butter Jelly Truck as a community outreach in the fall of 2019. The mission statement for the Parkers' ministry is found in Luke 3:11 in the New Testament of the Bible, which states: "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

After purchasing and refurbishing a 1979 Chevrolet panel truck, the Parkers began serving meals consisting of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of chips, apple sauce, frozen yogurt, and other donated snack items.

From that single vehicle rolling around Marion handing out food a few days a week, the Peanut Butter Jelly Truck effort has expanded to three vehicles serving the community seven days a week. Amy Parker said they delivered more than 28,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to local residents in 2021.

Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people and organizations who volunteered to help prepare sandwiches and donate food and other items grew, Amy Parker said.

"Hundreds, hundreds. I can't even count," she said when asked how many volunteers are assisting with the program now. "I can count the sandwich makers which is probably 25 different groups of people a month. And then there's the people collecting peanut butter and apple sauce in their churches, clubs, and organizations. And I have other volunteers like the drivers. There's eight teams of drivers. There's churches who collect money routinely for us. There's so many we can't even count them all."

The Peanut Butter Jelly Truck opened a new headquarters this located on Ballentine Avenue next to the Parker's home. Amy Parker said having that facility has made operating the ministry much easier.

"It's a warehouse and it gives us a place where the drivers can pack their sandwiches and their yogurts and their snacks and they don't have to cram into a truck to do it," she said. "They can enter with their thumbprint and the sandwich makers can drop off their sandwiches, so everybody kind of works flawlessly together now and I don't have to oversee any of it," she added. "Just set up the schedule and watch it all go."

Brock Parker said the new facility also allowed them to clear out their garage.

"We moved three racks of peanut butter and jelly out of the garage," he said.

For information about the Peanut Butter Jelly Truck, go to the website luke311ministries.org or the Peanut Butter Jelly Truck Facebook page.

Email: ecarter@gannett.com | Twitter: @AndrewACCarter 

This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Marion's Peanut Butter Jelly Truck receives $25,000 State Farm grant