Friday, September 13, 2013

In The News: How The LDS Bishop's Storehouse In Columbus, Ohio Provides Aid To The Needy And Increases Self-Reliance

To counter propaganda questioning how much the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invests in helping the needy, the Columbus Dispatch has published a story about the operation of a Bishop's Storehouse near Columbus, Ohio. The food pantry, which is actually located in the suburb of Groveport, distributed about $960,000 worth of products during 2012 in nine southern Ohio stakes representing about 22,000 Church members, and is part of a network of 140 storehouses in the U.S. To address criticism about restricting access to Church members, the storehouse provides food donations valued at $1,000 each to other nonprofit agencies where Church members volunteer, at least 15 such donations have been made so far in 2013. News video embedded below:

The primary difference between Mormon assistance and other assistance is workfare; the Church welfare program is not intended to be a way of life, but to provide a hand up rather than just a handout. Church members not only provide needy families with food, but also visit their homes to help them plan menus and teach them how to cook healthy meals. Recipients also might be asked to do work within a stake or take part in job training or counseling services. The latter requirement can also serve to provide a work history which can be used to flesh out resumes when applying for jobs. In addition, LDS members using the storehouses are encouraged to strive for full activity within the Church and to pay tithing on whatever wages or compensation are received; some members even insist upon paying tithing under these circumstances to increase their sense of personal empowerment and self-worth. The Church welfare program is far more than just "free food", visit the Church's Welfare Page to find out more about the holistic approach used.

Note that the LDS Welfare Program is separate and distinct from the Helping Hands Program, which is a priesthood-directed Church program to provide community service and disaster relief to all in need regardless of religion.

One person posted the following comment to the Dispatch story:

Gregori Steinway (PaxChristi) 2013-09-13 04:50:06
Wonderful mission to provide food to the needy and hungry. However, I still prefer the mission of those soup kitchens and food pantries that are open to all, regardless of church membership. But better to give to the needy members of your faith than to no one at all.

Understandable, but perhaps Steinway ought to consider that if the number of Mormons who use the Church's welfare system increases, the number using other resources will decrease. This means other resources will be able to provide MORE to their clientele.