The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been sensitive to the need to care for the poor, the sick, and the needy. They view this as a responsibility that Heavenly Father desires His children to fulfill. Galatians 6:2 states, “bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
In to "bear one another’s burdens" the Church has set up a welfare program for its members and also a relief organization that provides humanitarian service. About a mile west of downtown Salt Lake City is 13.5 acres of Church owned land. On this area is a bakery, cannery, dairy plant, thrift store, storehouse, and employment center. This has known as Welfare Square, and is used to provide items and assistance to families in need.
A few years ago, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin related the following about the Church's welfare program:
The welfare program of the Church is well known throughout the world. People from all walks of life travel to Church headquarters to see firsthand how the Church cares for the poor and needy without creating dependency on the part of those who receive or bitterness on the part of those who give. A president of a country, after visiting Welfare Square, canceled the remainder of his appointments for the day. “There is something here that is more important than anything else I have on my schedule,” he said. “I must stay and learn more”
- “Inspired Church Welfare,” Ensign, May 1999, 76
The cannery on Welfare Square is only one of 97 Church cannery buildings that can be found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The cannery facilities are designed specifically to bottle products like spaghetti sauce, salsa, applesauce, jams, and other foods that are too acidic to be put in metal cans. The products are then sent to one of over a hundred Bishop's Storehouses all over the world for distribution to families in need.
Members near Church cannery facilities are asked to volunteer and help in the production of the food. Volunteers just in Salt Lake City donate over 200,000 hours of labor on Welfare Square in a year. President Marion G. Romney spoke of the gift that both the giver and receiver get through the LDS Cannery program:
We are anxious to make our people independent, industrious, and self-sufficient. We want to accomplish this in a way which will be sanctifying to the giver as well as the receiver. When we can understand this principle, our current welfare activities will take on more meaning
- Marion G. Romney, “Work and Welfare: A Historical Perspective,” Ensign, May 1982, 87.
The canneries provide much more than just food to be stored in the Bishop’s Storehouses. Facilities can be used by those outside of the Church to provide for different organizations, such as hospitals. Excess food that is provided by Church farms is often canned and donated to food banks. The Church also encourages individuals to use the canneries to begin or add to their own food storage. Church leaders encourage that each family have its own reserve of food in case of personal emergency, such as the loss of a job, or for natural disasters.
For More Information about the LDS Church's Welfare Programs and Humanitarian Services visit: