Sunday, March 15, 2009

Church Food

Many of you, who are my friends, know that this last six months have been very difficult for me, especially financially. My parents have had to step in and help us cover what could have been a very big gap in our health insurance, and just recently, we started to get assistance from our ward.

This is probably the second or third time in our 20+ years of marriage that we've had to get what's known to Mormons as "Church Welfare". The most common form it takes is the food order.

You meet with your Relief Society President and determine what food staples you need. The two of you fill out a form called a "Food Order", and then you take that to what's called a "Bishop's Storehouse".

The Church has a vast network of farms, orchards, canneries, and other food-producing resources all over the World, but especially in America. The food is all grown, manufactured, packaged, and distributed to these storehouses all across the country. It also happens across the world, but I'm more familiar with how it works in America.

In a lot of cases, these canneries and distribution networks are managed by paid church members, but much of the staff that does the more menial labor that requires less critical skill is volunteer. Assignments are given out to wards and stakes (local and regional congregations) to fulfill certain days and hours of volunteer labor.

Usually, the first people to fill those slots are the the folks that are receiving the aid. So, when the next assignments come up in our ward, we will be expected to go. Still, there were many times when I helped fulfill these assignments when I was not on assistance. Sometimes you just go to help out.

In addition to all this help, one of the more famous, if not mundane, aspects of the church is its emphasis on prudent living, and a great emphasis is placed on having food storage. This is only partly due to a mild paranoia that arose out of the great depression. It's actually very practical. We don't have any special line on a prediction for the next natural disaster. It just makes good sense to have a supply on hand when you need it.

I mention all this because tonight, I cooked a meal that was provided, in part, by the groceries that were given to us from the bishop's storehouse, and partly from our own food storage. I didn't have to go out and buy anything to make tonight's meal. Technically, it cost money, because we had bought the part that came from storage. But still...

And, since I cooked it in my dutch oven, I didn't even use any electricity or gas!

Here's the fun part: It was incredibly delicious. I made a seafood chowder with garlic, cheese, and butter biscuits. I daresay, it was as good as, if not better than, a restaurant meal.

I'm not sure that I should be bragging about needing help from our ward to make ends meet. I hope it doesn't sound like I am.

But a long time ago, as I was growing in the music industry here, I learned something very important from a friend. You can complain about what you don't have, or you can make some thing good with what you do. I feel like I followed his advice tonight. And I feel a bit richer for it.

Mark Hansen


  1. Dear Mark,
    Every once in a while I check your blog to see how your doing. You really don't know me but you were very helpful to us last fall when we started our new website. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Blessings, Bettie & Nuch at

  2. It's great to have such support within your faith group. Of course, we have no such mechanism in my faith. We do however, donate to the local food banks. These are usually church-based, of course. We get a donation together at least once a year from the coven and take it in. We try to donate to the food banks during the non-holiday seasons because we discovered there were needs that did not revolve around Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We were dropping off a donation once at a church food bank. They were very happy because they were running low - it was February. Then the woman noticed my pentagram. She kept staring at it. Finally she thanked me and said they really didn't need any more donations from us.

  3. "Sorry, but you're not good enough to help us!"

    I have a hard time believing that Jesus would refuse to allow someone to help their fellow man.

    But that's just me. I'm weird.

  4. My husband was unemployed for 9 long months last year due to the economic crash. During that time, we never went hungry because of the Bishop's Storehouse program, and that allowed us to keep making our house payment. We are so blessed to have this program in the church. Now, my husband has a job again and once more we can be on the "giving end" to help others through time of crises. Sending best wishes as you look for employment and go through this "lean time". I have learned from several of our own "lean times" that things always work out.

  5. Don't forget that church welfare is not "Plan B". We have been told time and time again to store food and, yet, the Bishop's storehouses are being drained by families who ignored the counsel and are now out of work with no financial or food storage. The church cannot afford to feed all who are out of work.

    When better times come, I hope more will use more of their income to become self-reliant rather than using it to buy more things they don't need.

    I'm glad you have some food storage to back up the church's help. Many have nothing and need food orders immediately and often to make ends meet.



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