A new cannery located in a small town in northern Utah is up and running and ready to assist in addressing welfare needs of people around the world after its dedication on May 18.
“It stands as a living and working testament to the Lord’s continuing care for His children — and particularly to His children who are in need,” said Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, during the dedication.
Held in the warehouse portion of the new facility, the dedication brought Church leaders, government leaders and members of the community together for a special meeting and tour of the building. Bishop Davies spoke and offered the dedicatory prayer and Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, also participated.
Located on 7.5 acres in Harrisville, Utah, near Church-owned land that produces green beans, corn, tomatoes, peaches and other produce, the new 45,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facilities — with the help of volunteers — will process, cook and package more than 15 million cans of food per year.
It is “the commitment to give the very best we have to those in need that drives our decisions about facilities, machinery and products,” Bishop Davies said.
As one of six wet-pack canneries owned and operated by the Church, the new building was erected to replace the aging cannery in nearby Ogden — built more than 100 years ago — and will increase production capacity by 80 percent.
“We are grateful to the Lord for the laboratory here in this cannery,” Bishop Davies said. “We are grateful to the Lord for the inspiration that has made this marvelous technology possible — technology which, combined with the diligent efforts of the many staff and volunteers who will serve here, will enable us to provide succor and relief to thousands of people in need for years to come.”
Sister Bingham spoke of the lasting impact the canned goods will have in the lives of people who need them.
"Food is more than just a means of satisfying hunger; it is also a metaphor for love and comfort to those who are suffering,” said Sister Bingham. “All will feel the love of their Heavenly Father that is sealed up in the products processed in this facility.”
She spoke of the experience she recently had visiting refugees in Uganda, and the recognizable comfort a hot meal brought to individuals who had suffered greatly.
“Those who will receive food produced at this facility will be struggling with a variety of challenges,” she said. “The elderly and infirm, widows and widowers, single mothers and their children, fathers who are temporarily unable to provide for their families, those who may have just lost homes or possessions in a natural disaster, those who are living in a shelter. 3; We may not be able to relieve affliction, but we can provide a meal.”
Food, she said, brings comfort and relief.
The Harrisville facility houses a warehouse, freezer, cooler, process room, support area, offices and an orientation and training area. Products including green beans, beef stew, beef chunks, turkey chunks, chicken-flavored rotini soup, tomato sauce and tomato soup will be processed in the facility with help from the nearby Church-owned pasta plant in Kaysville, Utah.
“Brothers and sisters, the Lord does feed His children,” Bishop Davies said. “He feeds us by supplying our physical wants and by ministering to our spiritual needs. He has invited us to join with Him in feeding His sheep. This magnificent cannery, along with the generous staff and volunteers who will labor here, will supply the life-sustaining nourishment that will bring relief to thousands of individuals and families during some of their most challenging times.”
The newly dedicated cannery will be staffed by six full-time employees, 30 missionaries, ten young Church-service missionaries and will draw volunteers from 109 stakes in the area. Each shift will have an average of 12 volunteers with more during the bean harvest in the summer months.
“As a member of the Presiding Bishopric, I had the privilege of taking part in the selection of the beautiful property where we stand today as the location for this new cannery,” Bishop Davies said. “May I tell you from my heart, that the feeling of standing on this property and the feeling of standing on a temple site are, for me, more similar than you might realize? This is sacred ground.”
Recognizing that temples are dedicated for the glorious work of salvation for the living and the dead, Bishop Davies pointed out that the cannery is dedicated for the “no less divinely appointed responsibility of caring for the poor and the needy during their mortal challenges. Both are integral to the Lord’s mission of redeeming and exalting His children.”
But the blessings reach far beyond the people who receive canned goods, Bishop Davies said.
"Volunteers who serve in this facility will come anticipating the physical labor of packing and cleaning, and yet they will leave with their spirits uplifted and an increased measure of joy and compassion in their hearts.”
For Carol Satterthwaite, who serves as the stake Relief Society president in the North Ogden East Stake, the building is an opportunity to give service.
"Our lives are blessed when we come here to work," she said. "We are excited to help — it is just such a good feeling to do that service."
The food processed at the northern Utah cannery will be transported by truck to the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City and will then be distributed in the Church’s 113 bishops’ storehouses around the world.
The facility meets all of the USDA and FDA food safety requirements and was built in a way so that it could be expanded in the future.
Other participants during the program included: Don J. Johnson, director of Welfare Production and Distribution for the Church; President Mark C. Furniss of the Ogden Utah Pleasant Valley Stake; and Elder Kyle S. McKay, Area Seventy. The Weber State Alumni Singers provided a special musical number.