Bright Green Vans Bring More Than Just Smiles

Tifton, GA |

In what’s amounted to a remarkable six-year journey, the unmistakable lime green vans of Peanut Butter and Jesus have become a lifeline for hungry children, hitting the streets of Tifton and the surrounding areas every Saturday with a mission to distribute sandwiches and spread kindness. From humble beginnings of 141 sandwiches, the initiative has flourished, now delivering a staggering 18-hundred sandwiches weekly. Recently, I had the privilege of discussing this incredible charitable effort with CFO Tony McBrayer, shedding light on the unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of those in need. Here’s our interview:

Ray: “Why Peanut Butter and Jesus? Was there a need down there in Tifton that somebody saw that and said, ‘we need to do this?’ So take us from the beginning.”

Tony: “The way it started in Tifton was back in 2017, the pastor of our church at the time was praying about some kind of community outreach that our little small church could do. He kept driving by these two green vans down in Lakeland, Georgia, had peanut butter and Jesus on them and looked like grass was growing up around them. So, he started asking around, so he got the phone number to the right man, and he, the man explained that they had done the ministry in Lakeland for about six years, and their volunteer base had dried up. So, he said, ‘if you’ll take it and start it in Tifton, we’ll donate the two vans to you.’ So, I always say God kind of dumped it in our laps, so we had to do something, we went with it. We did start here in Tifton in September of 2017, so a little over six years ago. Tift County’s probably six percent poverty with school kids. So we were concerned about kids having something to eat on the weekend and so that’s why we started the ministry here. Just trying to make sure they do have something to eat on the weekend. Just letting them know somebody cares about them and loves them and give them an encouraging word and that type thing every weekend.”

Ray: “What all comes in the bags that you guys prepare and fix for people?”

Tony: “We do put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a snack of some sort, we put a little juice, eight ounce juice in there, and then we always put a Bible track, a little message, something like this in there to tell them about Jesus. We usually do it in cartoon form so the kids would be more likely to read it. That also gives them hope and an inspirational message every weekend. So, sometimes we get other things donated to us. We have distributed blankets, socks, bibles, extra snacks. Sometimes we get big bags of chips and we’ll give them those in addition to the lunch bags we hand out. So, we’ve built quite the rapport with the kids in the neighborhood and the community over six years.”

Ray: “You guys do this every weekend. Sometimes, peoples’ lives are busy, people have busy schedules, but yet you still get people to turn out every single weekend. Does that just kind of blow you away as well?”

Tony: “It does. I mean, fifty two weekends in a year and very few times do we not have some type of group signed up, whether it be other churches. That’s one thing we did very smartly now that we look back, was make it a community ministry from the start. We didn’t try to make it about our church. We don’t make it about any certain denomination. We just, we make it a community ministry and we have churches, small denominations come in to help us. We have civic groups come in, we have school clubs, key clubs, you know, beta clubs, all types of people come in. Sometimes a business would organize their employees because that particular business wants to give back to the community. So we just fill up the calendar every year and give God the praise for that because we could not do it by ourselves. That’s for sure.”

Ray: “For people who want to get involved maybe watching this and they say to themselves, ‘I want to be a part of this,’ how could they do that? Who do they need to contact?”

Tony: “They can contact me and I don’t mind you giving them my number, which is
229-392-7774. I have an email, which is, and they can contact me and maybe somebody watching is in another town or another state. We have a little pamphlet about Peanut Butter and Jesus we can send them. We also have a startup guide. A lot of people said, ‘we’d like to start this in our community. How can we do that?’ and we have a startup guide that we can send them. We know of about 35-40 other chapters of Peanut Butter and Jesus that has sprung up across the country. We have three or four out in Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, others here in Georgia. So we would love for it to spread – pun intended, across the United States. It’s my dream that maybe one day even another country will start up a chapter of Peanut Butter and Jesus.”

By: Ray D’Alessio