Miss Alabama Jessica Procter is nuts about service. From volunteer work to public speaking, Procter routinely digs deep and spreads awareness to decrease food insecurity.
But digging peanuts? That’s a new nut to crack for the 21-year-old who won the Miss America Quality of Life Award for her platform, Step Up To The Plate: Decreasing Food Insecurity.
“It’s amazing just how much it really does start on the farm,” said Procter, who picked up peanut production facts while touring Nick McMichen’s Cherokee County farm Oct. 31.
“These are the people we really should be supporting…and showing the world what they do to begin the conversation about feeding others,” she added.
Procter’s passion for peanut products has deep roots, but it was the Tuscaloosa native’s first time seeing how the perfectly powerful peanut grows and is harvested.
“A lot of food that’s donated to local food banks and member agencies are canned goods, which are great, but they only have so many nutrients in them,” Procter said. “It’s good to have peanut butter, which has healthy fats and is a good source of protein. Everyone loves peanut butter, right?”
Procter’s farm-to-food-bank field day came full circle when distributing peanut butter at Centre’s Family Care Center (FCC). The Alabama Peanut Producers Association and Cherokee County Farmers Federation donated six cases of peanut butter to the FCC, which serves over 500 families monthly.
“Having a public figure like Miss Alabama visit and donate to us was a real blessing,” said FCC Director Cindy McGinnis. “We have a lot of single, working moms who need nutritious items for their families. Peanut butter will definitely fill the gap for them.”
The tour day was full of firsts for Procter. McMichen fired up a combine to show modern, high-tech machinery in action and helped the Miss America Top 7 finalist sample a freshly dug green peanut.
Earlier, they snacked on peanut butter cake topped with roasted, Cherokee County-grown peanuts.
It’s McMichen’s first year growing peanuts, a decision, he told Procter, that adds nutrients into the soil and prepares it for the family’s main crop, cotton.
“Every decision we make takes stewardship and the future of our land, family and industry into consideration,” he said. “I’m proud to produce a naturally nutritious crop that nourishes families across the U.S. while enriching the land on which our family depends.”
A trip to Cherokee Gin & Cotton Co. sewed up the farm field day, which Procter called one of her favorite events since being crowned in June.
“If everyone took care of all the little details like the farmers we were around, we would have so much more and so many more people would be helped,” she said.