Nicole and I are seeing and doing things around Salt Lake City. Today we went to Welfare Square to have a tour. For years I have driven past this place, thinking I knew all that went on here. I am of course a member of this church and I have been thought what goes on here but in reality I had no clue ALL of the ins and outs.
First, when you arrive a film is shown. It is about 10 minutes and reflects the spirit of Welfare Square. When it is over, a pair of sister missionaries starts the tour. To our surprise, Sister Taufa from Tonga, was our guide. We met her on one of our flights back to UT. She was being transferred from Denver to Temple Square. She was lost and the Elders were not there to pick her up. We helped her get to the right place and waited with her until they came.
First, we went into the Bishops storehouse. This is like a small grocery store. The necessities people may need are here. Basic food needs, hygiene needs as well as laundry and cleaning supplies. There is even a small clothing area that has jeans, shirts, socks, fabric to make clothes and other items from. These are all items received at no charge. It is our churches welfare system. People in need go to their bishops to be assessed for their needs. He in turn gives them an order to take to a nearby Bishops storehouse where the order is filled. Most often, those needing church assistance do other service in return for items. They may volunteer at the store house or soap factory. If they do not have a bishop and need assistance they can come to welfare square and sign up to work in the cannery, dairy, Deseret Industries in return at the end of the day they are paid in food. The churches mission is not just to its members, it is for everyone. It is not a hand out rather a hand up.
Next, we went to the warehouse that houses all the items. We learned that our church produces most of what is given at the Bishops storehouse. It is either grown or raised by members of our church on what is church owned orchards, fields or ranches.
When we lived in Texas, our family would go to the apple orchard about an hour away to help with pruning and harvesting the apples (which in turn went to a nearby Bishops storehouse). The kids looked forward each year to be able to go there and participate. Great service but also great learning experience and memories.
The men and women that over see quality control have an office here. They test each production run to make sure it meets or exceeds the standards put forth. The standards the church has for food it produces is some of the highest in all food industries.
The bakery was very busy today. It is most days. The smell was heavenly. When we strolled by the workers were cutting and bagging bread.
Next on our tour was the employment building. Here, people come to get more training as well as work on their resume, get help in interviewing skills and maybe even help others with skills they already have that will be beneficial.
Off to the cannery we go. John and I have dry packed many things over the years for our own consumption. Wheat, dry milk, apple slices, beans and many more things. At this facility they wet pack food. That means anything that is wet. For example, beef chunks, jam, many varieties of soup, vegetables, honey and on and on.
There is a Deseret Industries on the square also. This is like Good Will. People donate clothing, furniture, books and other items to be resold.
Next, the dairy. The most fascinating fact of the dairy I learned was about the milk the church farms produces. Only about 40% of the milk is used by the Bishops storehouse for bottling, making cheese, ice cream etc. (this includes the ice cream for BYU creamery) The other 60% is sold on the open market. WOW! That is a lot of milk that is produced because there is a lot of milk making items being made.
Another amazing thing our church produces...ATMIT. This is a product that is sent to 3rd world countries where they are starving. This product, Atmit, an Ethiopian porridge mixture based on a centuries-old recipe, is a nutritious blend of oat flour, powdered milk, sugar, salt and supplemental vitamins and minerals. Atmit has helped millions of people from starving.
At the end of touring we were able to taste the cheese being made as well as chocolate milk. Both were delicious.
What a great day Nicole and I had. Not only did we get to learn many new and exciting things but we also were able to see our new friend, Sister Taufa.