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In case of emergency
For these church members, having a few months supply of food is part of being self-sufficient
0607Mormon
Amy Whitmire cans food at the Bishop’s Storehouse in Tucker. The cannery is a place where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can purchase food to stock for their supply at home. - photo by Amber Jameson

0607MormonAUD

George Wangemann talks about the story of Joseph in the Bible and how his preparedness saved Egypt.

Many people are feeling the pinch of a slow economy and the soaring prices of food.

But members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always practiced storing food, water and fuel in preparation for those tough times.

The church even has a cannery called the Bishop’s Storehouse in Tucker where members are able to can food to purchase and stock for their food supply at home.

“Our goal is to reach a year’s supply of food,” George Wangemann, member of the Gainesville stake of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and a Gainesville city councilman. “We probably have about six to eight months supply right now.

“Generally our church teaches that you should store what you eat and eat what you store. In other words, you don’t just want to store food and maybe if you come upon a crisis in 15 years then you use that food; that is not the principle. The principle is to store it for a time of need in the future, whether that be immediate future or whether it be the far-away future.”

According to lds.org, the Web site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, preparedness is centered in the individual and family. It is one of the church’s major programs, referred to as the church’s personal and family preparedness program. Its central concept is “provident living” — not just reaction to emergencies.

For many, the preparedness plan of the Latter-day Saints can help during a crisis. Wangemann said during a stint when he was unemployed, he was thankful for his food-storage plan.

“In my case, I went through a five- or six-month period in my life of unemployment and so our food storage helped out there,” he said. “I didn’t have to spend what cash I had on food at the grocery store.”
But the Latter-day Saints aren’t hoarding food in anticipation for doomsday — they are just trying to be prepared for the unexpected.

“We have been counseled as members of the church for many, many years to do all that we can to be self-reliant,” said Clark Hirschi, manager in the public affairs department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Not in a panicked way but to establish for ourself resources and food supply that we could sustain ourself if emergencies arose.”

Hirschi added that the long-term goal of church members should be a year’s supply of food, but a first step would be to have a 72-hour kit in case of a hurricane, fire or flood.

So sustaining themselves includes occasional trips to the cannery in Tucker. The church provides these canneries throughout the country and internationally, Hirschi said.

“(We canned) flour, sugar, wheat, macaroni, apple slices, pinto beans, black beans, white beans,” Wangemann said. “Some of the basic commodities that people use to sustain life.”

The Bishop’s Storehouse also functions as a food pantry for church members in need of short-term help.

“The storehouse is the same thing as a grocery store, and what happens there is that members who are in very dire need of help in terms of food,” Wangemann said. “We send them down there or somebody goes down there to pick up a two-week food order for those members.”

Wangemann’s daughter, Amber Jameson, went to the cannery for the first time on Wednesday and said she thought the storehouse was very important.

“I think especially in today’s world, with the economy how it’s going, you never know,” she said. “You can purchase your food down there and bring home however much you want. I saw people buying up to thousands of dollars worth of stuff down there. It’s very economical and high-quality food.”

Jameson also said many of the vegetables are dehydrated when they are canned, and you reconstitute them when you open the can at home.

Other elements of the family preparedness program include keeping a supply of water, financial reserves, fuel and a family garden.

“We all look at fuel as gasoline, don’t we? But fuel is also things like matches, like wood if you have a wood-burning stove, candles,” Wangemann said. “Although fuel could be considered flashlights and batteries.”

Jameson is in charge of keeping the family garden, and this season she has tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, okra and watermelon growing to provide fresh produce during the summer.

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