Church members today might not realize the deep, historical connection the Relief Society organization has with wheat.
"Wheat stalks have long represented Relief Society as a symbol of preparedness and plenty," Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, wrote in a blog post on LDS.org. "They are part of the Relief Society seal and adorn the outside of the Relief Society Building at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters. This is because for more than 100 years the Relief Society collected and stored wheat to provide for those who needed food."
From 1876 to 1978, the Relief Society organization was tasked with overseeing a wheat storage program. The stores of wheat that these women maintained were used in times of need. For instance, this wheat fed survivors of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and was sold to the United States government in 1918 to meet the food emergency caused by World War I.
In 1978, the wheat storage program was turned over to the Church welfare program. But that did not end the Relief Society's involvement with wheat. The Relief Society general presidency now sits on the General Welfare Committee in the Church, "along with the First Presidency, the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric to review all strategic welfare decisions — including wheat and humanitarian services," Sister Eubank wrote.
Read Sister Eubank's blog post here.