The Church of Latter-Day Saints quietly operates more than fifty farms ranging in size from 100 to more than 10,000 acres across the western U.S. The network of farms, dating back to the Great Depression, grows food for a system of more than 150 “bishops’ storehouses”: food banks for LDS members. The farms are part of a vast food production, processing and distribution system owned and operated by the Mormon Church, run mostly with volunteer help and funded by member donations. The farm-to-food bank system reflects not only a scriptural call to feed the hungry, but also reflects the group’s cultural tradition of self-reliance.


Civil Eats reports:

“The farm Larsen and his daughters volunteered on that day was no ordinary bean-growing operation: It’s part of a vast, yet little-known system of welfare farms run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). This network of more than 50 farms, scattered across the West and ranging from 100 to 10,000 acres, grows everything from wheat to apples to raisins.

The crops supply a distribution system of 143 “bishops’ storehouses,” church food banks where a signed form from a local Mormon leader is the only legal tender. Filling hundreds of thousands of food orders a year, the operation may be the nation’s largest private welfare system.”

A fascinating article, this is the second in a food and faith series published by Civil Eats.