Friday, November 21, 2008

The cupboard is bare

There is a big push here for food. All the food pantries are bare and it has made front page, above the fold, news.

The key is this: There is no free lunch.

Mormons understand this and have one of the best welfare programs to be found anywhere in the world. It is as old as Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob in the Old Testament.

When times are good you lay up a store of food. Then when the economy goes south you live off the food you have stored.

You can do that as individuals (which you should) and as a church.

Mormons fast once a month for two meals and then give the money they would have spent on food to the church to feed the poor among them. Of course, most of them give much more than the value of two meals, maybe $20…or $30…or $40 a month.

The church administers the program locally and the minister is advised by Salt Lake that there are four principles that must be taught when someone comes to them for help:
1) The recipient must work for what they receive. It might be cleaning the church, or service at the library, or reading to kids at the hospital, or helping someone move, or knitting booties, or working at the storehouse. (More on the storehouse later.)
2) The assistance is temporary. The minister arranges for the recipient to get help working out a plan to look for work or learn a skill. Right up front people are told that help will only last for a few weeks.
3) No cash is handed out. The church gives food and pays bills directly to the utility company or the landlord.
4) The church doesn’t care about maintaining the lifestyle of the recipient. The assistance is to sustain life. They don’t pay the cable company or the cell phone bill or the payments on the Escalade. In fact, they will sit down with the recipient and go over the bills in detail, pointing out the foolishness of some of their purchases.

Now, about the storehouse. The church maintains storehouses where emergency food and supplies are kept. Canneries around the world are staffed by volunteers who give their time to can peaches, green beans, corn, catsup… And the canning isn’t in glass jars; the products are canned just like you would buy at the store.

The canneries also produce pasta, gelatin, tuna…pretty much all the basics. Bread, meat, and produce, along with dry goods are purchased locally. All of the money to run the canneries comes from those fast offering donations. And nearly all of the labor to stock the shelves, pull the orders, and deliver them is donated as well.

So you see, the Mormon Church doesn’t just ask reporters to take a picture of empty shelves and do a story about the need for donations. They WORK to keep the shelves stocked through donated labor and donations from members. Those fast offerings become a blessing either way…if you don’t need help from the church you consider yourself blessed for your prosperity. If you do need help you are grateful that you have donated to the fund over the years.

There is no free lunch, but if you plan a little you won’t go hungry.

1 comment:

  1. Nice - I wish more goverment leaders etc realized that more than just a church can be run this way