The Church Welfare System: “One of the World’s Best”

welfare square

The Church’s welfare program has been known to be “one of the world’s best” in supplying food, clothes, and more to those in need — all for free.

PBS correspondent, Lucky Severson, dives deeper into the Church’s welfare system and visits the bishops’ storehouse in Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. Welfare Square is one of 115 storehouses around the world that contains four to six months of inventory.

“It is huge, it’s impressive and gets zero funding from the government,” Severson said.

While there are no transactions in exchange for the food, those who are able do need to work for what they receive. Severson reports, the Church seeks to “do away with ‘the curse of idleness’ and help people help themselves.” Self-sufficiency is what the Church strives for, both for the receivers and givers.

Fast offerings are what mostly funds the welfare system and the men and women who do all the work are all volunteers.

“Just in our production and distribution activities we have over a million-and-a half-hours of volunteer service, and we could not do this without those volunteers,” Don Johnson, head of production and distribution, said.

The purpose is to help anyone in need, not just members of the Church, and the Church’s humanitarian aide program has been of great assistance to nonmembers as well. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the Church was ready to send out 450 truck loads of supplies and arrived within hours.

“We’ve had the Department of Defense, we’ve had the army, the navy, the marines, FEMA. They’ve all come out, and they said wherever we go we’ve been told go see how the Mormons do it, because they’re always the first ones on the site,” Richard Humphreys, manager of the bishops’ storehouse, said.

There are no strings attached to those who receive help from the Church’s welfare program.

“This is aid that we give to anybody just because they’re in need, and we feel that it’s the right thing to do,” Steve Peterson, Church welfare director, said.

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. stated in 1936:

“The real long term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.”

Watch the full report below:

Sugene loves to write, play and watch all sports, and spend time with family and friends. She graduated at BYU with a communications degree and is expecting a little girl in July.