Project Peanut Butter has resumed this summer, uniting a generous public and more than 3,000 peanut pounds to give Greater Victoria residents in need a tasty, nutritious treat while honouring the program’s late founder.
Roughly 1,400 jars of peanut butter decked the Mustard Seed Street Church’s loading bay at 625 Queens Ave. Thursday morning (July 21) to mark another successful year for Project Peanut Butter. The program, started in 2014 by Matt Tanner of family business Merry Maids of Victoria, matches every jar donated by the public with a second from Merry Maids and a third from Island Nut Roastery to triple the peanut butter effect.
Matt died in 2021 at age 36 from a brain stem stroke, but his program and legacy continue through the work of brother Dylan and father Scott Tanner. They scheduled the peanut butter to arrive at the Mustard Seed on Thursday, which was Matt’s birthday.
“This is really close to home for me,” Dylan said. “It’s a super proud moment for my family.”
He added people could start getting their fill of free peanut butter as early as next week and the program has come to exceed simply helping low-income families and now supports a wide variety of residents, with Merry Maids additionally sponsoring the Victoria Jazz Society and Victoria Foundation.
Asked how Matt would react if able to see the success this year, Dylan held back tears to say his brother would be proud.
Janice James, Mustard Seed development manager, said 60 different organizations have supported Project Peanut Butter and explained that the jars must first go to the warehouse at 808 Viewfield Rd. before being distributed.
“It’s a bit of fly by the seat of your pants,” she explained, adding they’ve only had several weeks to amass this peanut butter stash.
James acknowledged the generosity of Merry Maids and Island Nut Roastery toward the program, as well as Uplands Golf Club for contributing $1,700, and said it would make Matt happy to see how things turned out this year.
“This is his legacy.”
Island Nut Roastery owner Max Young maintained a close friendship with Matt during grade school and reunited with him in Victoria after Matt left for Vancouver and Young headed to Calgary, going on to help his friend start the program.
“He mentioned he was going to do this peanut butter project and I said, ‘Matt, I make peanut butter.’”
Though they brought different ideas and skillsets to the table, Young said their values aligned perfectly. The friends ran the program in the spring for the first few years, but the COVID-19 pandemic-induced grocery rush in early 2020 forced them to postpone it for more than two years. Now, things seem to be back on track for Project Peanut Butter.
“The Victoria community is pretty supportive of each other,” he said, explaining he’s grown accustomed over time to how generous people here are when it comes to programs like this.
And while Young recognizes not everyone can enjoy peanut butter due to allergies, he emphasized its versatility as a delicious protein source.
“That amount of calories (in peanut butter) is cheaper than meat.”
Gazing off into the distance, Young took a moment to ponder what he’d say to Matt if he were here.
“I’d probably just give him a high-five.”
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