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LDS Church consolidates canning resources

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 5:30 a.m. MDT

The Taylorsville Young Single Adult Stake volunteers at the Murray Cannery of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Murray in 2011. (Deseret News Archives) The Taylorsville Young Single Adult Stake volunteers at the Murray Cannery of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Murray in 2011. (Deseret News Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Welfare Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is relocating the Lindon wet-pack cannery operations to Murray in an effort to consolidate resources and be more economically efficient.

But while the wet-pack operations (products canned with liquid) are moving, the change does not affect the packaging of dry goods at the Lindon facility. The change will also not affect the Lindon home storage center, where patrons may purchase pre-canned or prepackaged food items for a minimum cost. All paid employees will be relocated and volunteer opportunities will still be offered.

"It's a minor shift," said Don J. Johnson, the church's welfare director of production and distribution. "It's as simple as that."

Yvonne Oliphant (left) and Norma Fugal (right) with several other United Way Volunteers help to make applesauce at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Lindon Cannery. (Deseret News Archives) Yvonne Oliphant (left) and Norma Fugal (right) with several other United Way Volunteers help to make applesauce at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Lindon Cannery. (Deseret News Archives)

The LDS Church currently operates 101 home storage centers in the United States and Canada where food storage items such as beans, dry milk, wheat, rice and sugar may be purchased.

A cannery is a facility where goods, both dry and wet products, are pre-packaged for distribution. They can also be self-packaged and purchased by patrons.

The decision to move the wet-pack canning from Lindon to Murray, a facility that offers the same services, was purely an economic decision, Johnson said.

"The real issue is we are not closing the Lindon cannery, which is where some people have become confused," Johnson said. "We still have the bishop's storehouse there, and the home storage or dry pack canning there."

The LDS Church addressed recent operational changes at the church’s home storage centers and canneries with a news release in June, according to mormonnewsroom.org.

Ashley Medina, of North Salt Lake, cans oats in the dry pack area of the Welfare Square Cananery in 2008. (Deseret News Archives) Ashley Medina, of North Salt Lake, cans oats in the dry pack area of the Welfare Square Cananery in 2008. (Deseret News Archives)

"Misinformation and unnecessary concern has been circulating on blogs, over social media channels and by email regarding changes in operations at the church’s home storage centers," the release said. "No home storage centers are being closed, but the church is making welcomed modifications in its operations at most of these centers that will help to better serve the needs of members of the church, as well as significantly improve efficiency."

While clarifying the news regarding the relocation, Johnson also announced that nine new pre-packaged products would be available at home storage centers starting Nov. 1, bringing the total number of products offered to 17.

In addition to pinto beans, rice, white hard wheat, red hard wheat, quick oats, white flour, pancake mix and potato pearls already available, patrons will also be able to purchase sugar, apple slices, regular oats, potato flakes, elbow macaroni, spaghetti bites, hot cocoa mix, nonfat dry mix and fruit drink mix. Previously, these nine products were only available through self-packing by volunteers.

Cans of corn grown on church farms at the south end of the valley at the Murray Cannery of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Murray. (Deseret News Archives) Cans of corn grown on church farms at the south end of the valley at the Murray Cannery of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Murray. (Deseret News Archives)

"People would come in and say, 'Can’t we just get the powdered milk already pre-packed so it’s not all over us?' So we are doing that," Johnson said. "Food safety is a very important element and one of the reasons we want to go away from self-pack to pre-pack. We don’t want anybody, anyone at all, to not receive a safe product. By pre-packing these in one location, it will save us a lot of concern over the long run."

Patrons, including those who are LDS Church members and those who are not, can purchase any of the pre-packaged items. A list of the locations can be found at ProvidentLiving.org.

The Lindon-to-Murray change leaves the church with six wet-pack canneries: Houston; Boise, Idaho; Mesa, Ariz.; Ogden; Welfare Square in Salt Lake City; and Murray, Utah.

Neil K. Newell, welfare services manager of public affairs, stressed these changes would not reduce the quantity or quality of these food products. As part of its mission to care for the poor and needy, the Welfare Department is committed to providing "the very best," Newell said.

"That’s why we go to such great lengths to ensure food safety, quality and that’s why they say the food at the bishop’s storehouse is the best food money can’t buy," he said.

Johnson agreed.

"We spend a lot of time making sure the food that we process in our facilities is of the utmost quality, and we want make sure we are not going to drop that vision by any means," Johnson said. "We’re not closing these facilities; we are utilizing them better than they ever have and also maintaining the capacity that is necessary to make sure that we maintain our vision."

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