SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Across the United States, local food banks are partnering with canneries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to tackle hunger in their communities.
When Utah Food Bank Services recently teamed up with the Church’s Welfare Square Cannery, more than 8,600 cans of salsa were produced. All the food and canning supplies were donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Utah Food Bank Services recruited the necessary volunteers from the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office to complete this enormous project.
“We wouldn’t be who we are without the help of the LDS Church,” said Amberlie Phillips, development director of Utah Food Bank Services. “Canning four times a year gives us food quantities we can count on to feed more than 100,000 mouths a month in Utah.”
In Texas, peanuts are at the heart of the relationship between the LDS peanut butter cannery and the Houston Food Bank. More than 95,000 jars of peanut butter are produced annually at the cannery — all bearing the Houston Food Bank’s own label.
“Peanut butter is our most-requested item,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “It’s nutritious, requires no refrigeration, and can even be eaten right out of the jar. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an outstanding partner with the Houston Food Bank in leading the fight against hunger.”
Of the approximately half-million individuals who need assistance each year from the Houston Food Bank, 44 percent are children under 18 years of age. To produce the needed peanut butter, the Houston Food Bank purchases peanuts through private donations and gathers volunteers from 18 southeast Texas counties. The cost of the jars, lids, labels, and the cannery operation is donated by the Church.
At the Church cannery in Denver, about three months of the year are dedicated to local humanitarian groups.
“We have many different community organizations come into the cannery,” said manager Richard Clark. “We help groups help themselves, by providing them with complementary resources.”
Clark says this practice of enhancing what organizations already have is the spirit of LDS welfare principles.
Gini Schneider, chairman of canning for the Women’s Auxiliary of the Salvation Army in Denver, said, “The Salvation Army doesn’t have access to bulk quantities of food.” It is more of an exception than the rule to have large amounts of the same food ready and prepared to provide to the homeless and shelters.
In fact, the Denver cannery is where community partnerships started more than 20 years ago. Then, the cannery would work with local farmers and can the excess harvest to support local humanitarian groups. Now several groups, from Jewish Family Services to the Metro CareRing in Denver, regularly use the cannery to help locals.
“We share a focus and mutual feelings about caring for the homeless, families in transitions and all people in need,” Schneider said. “It is a wonderful relationship we have together because of the cannery.”
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at LDS.org.