Relief Society General President Bonnie D. Parkin got what she described as a "hands-on" lesson in self-reliance Nov. 3. Visiting the Church-owned Home Production and Storage Training Center in Pocatello, Idaho, with her counselors, Kathleen H. Hughes and Anne C. Pingree, Sister Parkin donned her apron and rolled out tortillas and helped make cheese biscuits she said were "to die for."
Working side by side with other Relief Society sisters who serve at the training center, adjacent the Bishops Storehouse/dry-pack center in Pocatello, Sister Parkin said she learned the answer to the question: "What's in your storehouse and how do you use it?"
The training center, which includes several stations — or small kitchens — and serves the 25 stakes in the Pocatello region, teaches self-reliance, the general president said. "The reason I think it's so good is it's hands-on. You could watch them do it and then you did it and you may still have a failure but you had somebody there who could say why you had the failure."
The Relief Society general presidency visited the Pocatello Home Production and Storage Training Center during a daylong visit after hearing how the facility was being used by regional priesthood and regional Relief Societies to train members how to better utilize their home storage, how to cut costs and how to learn basic cooking skills. And Sister Parkin could not have been more thrilled with their successes — among all ages in the region.
Sister Pingree described it simply as teaching members "good home management skills."
The general presidency referred to materials provided by the center which explain: "The Pocatello facility will accommodate hands-on educational experience related to food preparation, preservation and storage. It is designed to teach people to utilize food storage items, safe food handling and preservation practices. During the classes we will not only prepare food for storage by canning, drying or freezing, but also teach how to use that food in a variety of healthy ways."
The training center, said to be the only of its kind in the Church, was constructed adjacent the dry-pack center in 2001 after receiving approval from Church headquarters. Under the direction of priesthood leadership, each stake calls a specialist to be trained in the use of the center by regional trainers. The stake trainers can then offer classes within the stake. Classes are scheduled in advance for groups within each stake, such as Enrichment Night classes.
In a letter to Sister Parkin, Rita June W. Critchfield, Relief Society president of the Pocatello Idaho Tyhee Stake, wrote: "We as a Stake Relief Society Presidency think this facility will be a great blessing to the sisters and their families. However, we think Primary Achievement Day girls and their mothers, and Young Women should be targeted as well as Relief Society sisters. The young Primary girls are excited to learn to cook. If we teach them now, they will teach their families. I was in Texas recently for 10 days with two of our little families. While there our 10-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson both made cinnamon rolls."
All ages are, indeed, being "targeted," as elders quorums and Relief Society units have used the facilities to teach young people, including young men preparing for missions, basic cooking skills. The overall formula of the training center seems to be "skill, product, training," said Sister Parkin, referring to how those taking classes are taught a cooking skill using a home storage product and receive training in both the preservation and use of that storage product.
For example, when she made the cheese biscuits, she was taught how to first make the mix, then how to make and bake the biscuits — all using dry-pack materials commonly found in home storage.
Working that day at the training center were stake leaders and members of the regional welfare committee, including President Stephen Dunn, chairman of the committee and president of the Pocatello Idaho Alameda Stake; and President Don Gilbert of the Pocatello Idaho Central Stake, who is also the agent stake president overseeing the bishops storehouse here. During the visit, President Dunn told Sister Hughes that the principle behind the training center is the use of dry-pack storage. "There are two principles that really drove it. One was, we're going to teach people how to use dry-pack because the Brethren and the First Presidency have always emphasized dry-pack as the key storage item. . . . So we have to teach the sisters and brothers to use the materials they're dry-packing and make things out of them. Other than that it just sits in their basements and does them no good."
In fact, one stake president brought the stake high council. The men learned how to use powered milk and made fudge.
Overall, Sister Hughes said, "it was so much fun."
"It was the old days of washing dishes by someone and that's what I did," Sister Parkin added. "When you finish you clean up your station."
She added, "All these years I've been measuring flour wrong. I learned how to measure flour so my chocolate chip cookies are going to be much better."
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