On a recent visit to a Church cannery here, an official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture learned first-hand how such a facility can benefit an entire community.
Joel Berg, coordinator of USDA Food Recovery and Gleaning Task Force, learned during his visit of the cooperation of the LDS facility with the local Emergency Food Network in distributing food to more than 70 area food banks.Hosting him at the bishops storehouse cannery was James R. Ely, manager of the storehouse and cannery. Accompanying Mr. Berg was David Ottey, director of the local Emergency Food Network.
As part of a tour of the Pacific Northwest, the USDA official also visited the Emergency Food Network's warehouse in Tacoma, Wash., and a Pierce County gleaning project. The food network, in cooperation with the LDS cannery, supplements with canned goods produce gleaned on the project by those in need.
Since the cooperation began 19 months ago, volunteers have canned more than 200,000 pounds of donated produce and protein items. For the first 11 months of 1997, humanitarian canning totaled 69,451 cans of applesauce, carrots and salmon.
"We are fortunate to be able to share our facilities with those not of the LDS faith," Brother Ely said. "Neither the Emergency Food Network nor the LDS bishops storehouse charges fees of any kind in serving the needy, but neither do we believe in the dole system. We expect recipients to work for what they receive."
For example, Mr. Ottey's "Moving Forward, Giving Back" canning project, using LDS cannery facilities under direction of storehouse staff, includes public assistance recipients as workers. Emergency Food Network pays for the cost of cans from donations by community groups, while the Church provides training and supervision at the cannery.
Participation by the Church helped provide an average of 492,000 meals each month to less-fortunate families, Mr Ottey said.
He added that the USDA official's visit is an indication of the stature of the local gleaning and cannery projects. "Pierce County's and Western Washington's record in anti-hunger is exemplary," he said.
In 1997, Pierce County LDS stakes were awarded one of three Ecumenical Service Awards presented by Associated Ministries of Tacoma/Pierce County. The award was given in recognition of the cannery project, the participation of local stakes in Paint Tacoma/
Pierce County Beautiful, the Church's response to flooding and wind storm disasters, and the service of full-time missionaries in preparing mailings and painting the exterior of a local interfaith center.