LDS Church opens bishops' storehouse to help 'poor and needy'

Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 5:35 p.m. MST

Members of the media tour the new Utah Bishops' Central Storehouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. This is the tire storage building.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

A new 570,391-square-foot welfare facility built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will help the organization respond to disasters and take care of those in need.

The Bishops' Central Storehouse, located on 5405 West 300 South in Salt Lake City, is constructed on 35.88 acres and has the capacity to store 65,000 pallets of food and supplies.

Richard Humpherys, manager of the facility, said the building was constructed for a single purpose — "to enable the bishops of the church to meet the needs of the poor and needy."

The massive structure replaces the previous Bishops' Central Storehouse, located on 1600 Wallace Road, and was paid for with LDS Church fast offering funds, which are earmarked to help those in need.

Ground was broken on the facility May 18, 2010, and construction began in July of that year. The facility, completed Oct. 7, 2011, was dedicated Thursday evening by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency.

Don J. Johnson, Director of Production and Distribution for LDS Welfare Services, likened the facility to the "hub of the wheel" of the church's vast welfare efforts, which include farms, processing facilities, and local bishops' storehouses. "It makes it all work," he said.

The facility also includes Deseret Transportation — which utilizes 43 tractors and 98 trailers and logs about 3.5 million miles per year delivering goods to some 110 church storehouses across the United States and Canada.

Rows and rows of food and supplies fill the storehouse, which includes a bulk storage area, rack storage and 63,000 square feet of freezer and cooler space. The freezer area is maintained at 10 degrees below zero. "In addition, moisture has been taken out of the air so you don't get ice build up," Humpherys said.

He noted that because of the way the storehouse is organized, supplies can go out to those in need at a moments notice.

For example, when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti two years ago, he got a phone call with a list of supplies to send to Miami that would be airlifted into the disaster zone. As he talked, he set the operation in motion. "By the time the phone call was over the trucks were gone," Humpherys said, noting that one hour later television reporters showed up wanting to tape the trucks preparing to leave. "I said, 'I am sorry. The trucks are one hour down the road.'"

Another example of the role of the Bishops' Central Storehouse is the response after Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States in 2005. The LDS church staged fully loaded semi-trucks from Texas to South Carolina. When the storm hit New Orleans, the emergency supplies were on site within 24 hours. Another 450 semi-trucks filled with food, water and other needed items were sent to the disaster zone from the Bishops' Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City in the weeks after the emergency.

sarah@desnews.com

Fact box info:

Total site area of Bishops' Central Storehouse: 35.88 Acres

Total building area: 570,391 square feet

Future expansion area: 100,000 square feet

The facility is designed to withstand a 7.0 earthquake

Total planned capacity of the facility is 65,000 pallet spaces

About 1,200 to 1,500 pallets move in or out of the facility each day

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